The accuracy of diagnosis of subacute rumen acidosis (SARA) with a single measurement of the ruminal pH remains contradictory. To clarify this aspect, a large assessment of rumen, faecal and blood parameters was performed in several herds characterised by diets rich in non-structural carbohydrates. Rumen fluid was collected by rumenocentesis 6 h after feeding from 114 dairy cows (half 30-90 and half 150-250 days in milk) from 10 herds. In the same day, blood and faecal samples were collected and milk yield was recorded. The herds were ex-post classified as healthy (CTR n ≤ 6) or as at risk for SARA (n ≤ 4), based on ruminal pH. SARA versus CTR herds had lower rumen pH (5.67 vs 5.97 P < 0.01) and higher concentration of VFA, with lower acetate (P < 0.01) and higher propionate and valerate (P < 0.05) proportions. Moreover, the faecal DM was lower (P < 0.05), whereas the milk yield was higher with a lower concentration of fat (P < 0.05). At blood level, no significant differences were observed between the groups on positive acute-phase proteins, whereas SARA herds showed higher concentrations of paraoxonase and Ca and lower of cholesterol, total proteins, nitrates, Na and Zn (P < 0.01). Therefore, SARA herds did not show any evident symptom of ruminal disorder or systemic inflammation. On the contrary, these herds had a higher milk yield and a better inflammometabolic profile. These data confirm the difficulties to diagnose the SARA by a single measurement of ruminal pH in commercial herds and suggest the need of more specific indices to identify herds at risk. © CSIRO 2014.
- inflammometabolic profile