An on-going project studying dairy cow subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) aims at getting exact data from cows` rumen around calving in field circumstances. With modern equipment, it is possible to diagnose SARA accurately and without harming the cow. Data of rumen pH will be combined to behavioural observation, blood parameters and information of feeding, to investigate risk-factors of SARA.
Rumen has a complex entity of microflora, that is responsible for carbohydrate and partly also protein digestion of the feed ingested by the cow. If the subtle stability of the microflora becomes disturbed, energy and protein metabolism is suboptimal and lead to many problems concerning cow health, productivity and well-being. This is particularly true around calving, when cow health is most vulnerable. Subclinical ruminal acidosis means that rumen pH is declined from the optimal level, and rumen digestion by the microflora is suboptimal. There are also signs of inflammation on the rumen epithelium. By intra-ruminal boluses and wireless internet, rumen pH is readable outside the cow.
The Academy of Finland and Walter Ehrström`s Foundation are funding the project. The project is done in collaboration of ProAgria Etelä-Pohjanmaa. Principal investigator is Mari Hovinen.