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Factors That Alter Rumen Microbial Ecology

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Science  11 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5519, pp. 1119-1122
DOI: 10.1126/science.1058830

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Ruminant animals and ruminal microorganisms have a symbiotic relationship that facilitates fiber digestion, but domestic ruminants in developed countries are often fed an abundance of grain and little fiber. When ruminants are fed fiber-deficient rations, physiological mechanisms of homeostasis are disrupted, ruminal pH declines, microbial ecology is altered, and the animal becomes more susceptible to metabolic disorders and, in some cases, infectious disease. Some disorders can be counteracted by feed additives (for example, antibiotics and buffers), but these additives can alter the composition of the ruminal ecosystem even further.

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