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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Title: Effects of plant tannins supplementation on animal response and in vivo ruminal bacterial populations associated with bloat in heifers grazing wheat forage

item Min, B
item Pinchak, W
item Hernandez, K
item Hernandez, Charles
item Hume, Michael
item Valencia, E
item Fulford, J

Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/2012
Publication Date: 8/13/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Min, B.R., Pinchak, W.E., Hernandez, K., Hernandez Jr, C.A., Hume, M.E., Valencia, E., Fulford, J.D. 2012. Effects of plant tannins supplementation on animal response and in vivo ruminal bacterial populations associated with bloat in heifers grazing wheat forage. Professional Animal Scientist. 28:464–472.

Interpretive Summary: Research was conducted to determine the effects of chestnut and mimosa tannins (specialized plant extracts) on gas and foam production (gaseous bloat) and on populations of selected bacteria in cattle stomach fluids. Stomach fluid collected from bloated cattle not fed tannins produced higher levels of gas and frothy foam than non-bloated cattle fed tannins. Selected bacteria populations were relatively stable up to twenty-five days in the stomach fluids of cattle not feed the tannins. However, feeding cattle chestnut and mimosa tannins increased populations of other selected bacteria, while chestnut tannins decreased populations of another group of bacteria. These results indicate that different types of tannins have different modes of action on cattle stomach fluid bacterial populations. The conclusion is that plant tannins may be effective in reducing frothy bloat and improving animal growth without negative effects on animal health. These results are of interest to feed and cattle producers, feed lot managers, and researchers on cattle production and health. Plant tannins potentially reduce the negative effects of gaseous bloat and increase animal health and growth.

Technical Abstract: Research was conducted to determine the effects of sources of tannins on in vitro ruminal gas and foam production, in vivo ruminal bacterial populations, bloat dynamics and ADG of heifers grazing wheat forage. Two experiments were conducted to 1) enumerate the effect of tannins supplementation on bio-film production, in vitro gas and foam production, ADG, and bloat frequency; and 2) quantify the influence of tannins supplementation on ruminal bacterial populations of heifers grazing wheat forage. Molecular PCR enumeration was used to quantify 5 major ruminal bacterial strains in the rumen of heifers grazing wheat forage supplemented with tannins. Twenty-six heifers (286.1 +/- 25.7 kg) were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 treatments that included a control (non-tannins group) and two types of tannins (mimosa, mainly condensed tannins vs. chestnut tannins, mainly hydrolysable tannins). Cattle were weighted at 10-d intervals. Plant tannins (1.5% of DMI) were supplemented once daily (approximately 0800) mixed with a textured feed (500 g/animal). Heifers were visually monitored daily (at 0800) and scored for bloat (0 = no bloat, 3 = severe bloat) from February 18 to March 19, 2007. In Exp. 1, supplementation of plant tannins reduced the rate of frothy foam and biofilm production with chestnut being more efficacious than mimosa tannins. Tannin supplementation, increased ADG, with chestnut tannin fed cattle gaining more. Mean bloat score and bloat day were greater (P < 0.01) for the control diet than for tannins treatment groups. Rumen fluid collected from bloated steers produced higher (P < 0.01) rate of gas and frothy foam production than non-bloated steers. In Exp. 2, phenotypic study shows that the dynamics of Fibrobacter succinogens, Streptococcus bovis, and Prevotella ruminicola strains were relatively stable with time (d 0, 10, and 25) in the rumen of animals not receiving tannins supplementation. However, with supplementation of tannins, populations of P. ruminicola in chestnut tannins and strains of both F. succinogenes and Ruminococcus flavefaciences in mimosa tannins were increased. Conversely, populations of both F. succinogens and S. bovis were decreased in chestnut tannins supplementation with time, indicating that different types of tannins have different mode of action on rumen bacterial population. Together, this suggests that plant tannins supplementation is effective for attenuating frothy bloat and improving animal performance without negative effects on stocker cattle grazing winter wheat forage.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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