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Role of probiotics on rumen development

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Probiotics could be used as a nutritional tool to optimize rumen microbial establishment.
A company’s research manager presented new insights this week into rumen development from recent research she conducted. The study relied on DNA-based techniques such qPCR and sequencing to examine time points between birth up and to 60 days of age.
The team looked at functionally important populations such as fiber-degrading microorganisms in the presence, or not, of a symbiotic feed additive, which was a combination of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and yeast metabolites.
She said the researchers observed no significant establishment of ciliate protozoa, fungi and Fibrobacter succinogenes in lambs fed milk replacer. However, when the lambs received the symbiotic feed additive, in addition to milk replacer and starter feed, the team observed earlier rumen colonization by those important players in fiber degradation.
That finding suggests the additive accelerated the maturation of the rumen microbial ecosystem in young animals, which could, in turn, have a positive effect on animal performance and health both before and after weaning, in particular with an increase in grain intake and a reduced frequency of diarrhea.
Why were lambs evaluated?
Lambs have been considered as a good model for young ruminants and rumen microbiota development, in general, and most of the existing literature on early microbial colonization in ruminant is on lambs. Moreover, the project was financially supported by a French region in which this rearing mode is very common and where several issues have been identified such as decreased performance, high mortality and morbidity.”
Can the results equally apply to beef and dairy calves?
The data found here suggest that similar results can be expected for ruminants separated soon after birth from the dam. Thus, it might be obtained in dairy calves, as newborns are generally separated from their mothers during the first hours post calving and reared in isolation. In beef calves, contacts with the cow and other ruminants are more frequent so the kinetics of colonization may be less modified.
What is the mode of action of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and yeast metabolites and how do they work in synergy?  
This live yeast is able to interact with rumen microbial populations and the ruminal environment. The viable yeast cells are able to stimulate fiber degrading bacteria and fungi, control lactate production and rumen PH and provide a more anaerobic environment which in turn improves rumen function.
The combination with yeast metabolites used in this study proved efficient to increase rumen microbial fermentations in vitro models. In the context of immature rumen, our purpose was to provide as many supports as possible to the microbiota to ensure optimal establishment, which is key for rumen development.
How can the results be extrapolated to say the use of the additive can result in an increase in gain intake and a reduced frequency of diarrhea?
The development of the rumen microflora directly influences the capacity of young ruminants to ingest and digest grain and solid feed. We did not measure feed intake in our study as the lambs of each group were in the same pen. Lambs were reared in a good quality environment so we did not record any health related issues.
However, previous studies conducted in calves fed with live yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae soon after birth show a better start of the calves regarding grain intake, growth and reduced scours duration and associated veterinary costs which suggests that this additive can have a beneficial role in the early phase of rumen development by positively modulating rumen colonization by key functional microbial communities.

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