Effect of increasing availability of water-soluble carbohydrates on in vitro rumen fermentation

MRF Lee*, RJ Merry, DR Davies, JM Moorby, MO Humphreys, MK Theodorou, JC MacRae, ND Scollan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of adding water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) on the microbial fermentation of fresh perennial ryegrass was examined in an in vitro RUSITEC system over two 10 day periods. Four treatment levels of WSC were used: a basal grass and a basal grass plus a sugar infusion to raise the WSC basal grass level by approximately 1.25 x; 1.5 x and 1.75 x. The infusion was a mixture of inulin and sucrose (80:20) infused over the first 14 h of each 24 h cycle, based on a preliminary study which indicated a linear disappearance of forage WSC over this period. With increasing WSC inclusion there were linear reductions in pH and ammonia-N (NH3 N) (P = 0.001) but only a small increase in total volatile fatty acid concentration. There was also a decrease in the proportion of acetate and an increase in propionate with increasing WSC inclusion (P = 0.02 and 0.009, respectively). Microbial nitrogen production was similar for the first three treatments of Basal to Basal x 1.5 but was lower at the highest level of WSC inclusion (P <0.001). The efficiency of microbial protein synthesis increased from Basal to Basal x 1.5 (9.9, 10.8, 12.7 g N/kg organic matter apparently digested (OMAD), respectively) but at the highest level of WSC inclusion (Basal x 1.75) there was a reduction to 7.1 g N/kg OMAD. This may have been related to the low pH values (

This study demonstrated the effect of increasing the concentration of WSC of Lolium perenne in batch culture on the rumen microbial population. Elevation of WSC caused a drop in the pH of the effluent, ammonia-N concentration and an increase in the efficiency of microbial protein synthesis, up to Basal x 1.5, however, this was due to a drop in the organic matter apparently digested. This suggests a switch in substrate specificity of the micro-organisms which may be associated with changes in the microbial population. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2003


  • rumen
  • ammonia
  • water-soluble carbohydrate
  • microbial protein
  • volatile fatty acids

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