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Rumen fluid examination
Dr Vinodh Kumar O.R
Senior Scientist
ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute
Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh
Indications
 To establish an accurate diagnosis of
diseases of the rumen.
 It is also essential when rumen fluid is
collected for therapeutic transfaunation.
(For treatment of acidosis, simple
indigestion, rumen stasis, stop rumination
and regurgitation).
Methods of collection
General remarks
RUMEN FLUID COLLECTION
APPARATUS
 A specially designed suction strainer.
 Three metre nylon tube with perforation
at the tip which is covered by a stainless
steel spiral sound.
 A suction pump.
 An air tight sampling bottle with two way
“T” joint
The common tests that can be
conducted with rumen fluid
 Colour
 Odour
 Consistency
 Sedimentation activity time (AT) or Stratification
 pH
 Cellulose digestion test
 Glucose fermentation test
 Redox potential or Methylene blue reduction test (MBR Test)
 Volatile Fatty acids
 Total Acidity (Titratable acidity)
 Chloride
 Protozoa
 Bacteria
Rumen fluid examination
PHYSICAL CHARACTERS
Colour
 Normal:
 Olive to brownish green (hay ration).
 Deeper green color (green ration).
 Yellowish brown color (grain or silage ration).
 Abnormal:
 Milky grey (grain overfeeding).
 Darker greenish (ruminal stasis/decomposition).
 Grey with clots of milk (calves with abomasal reflux).
Consistency
 Normal:
 Slightly viscous.
 Abnormal:
 Watery ( Inactive bacteria or
protozoa).
 Excess frothy (Frothy bloat / vagus
indigestion).
Odor
 Normal:
 Aromatic odor.
 Abnormal:
 Ammonia smell (Urea poisoning).
 Moldy rotting (Protein putrefaction).
 Sour odor (Excess lactic acid / grain
overfeeding).
STRATIFICATION/ SEDIMENTATION ACTIVITY TIME
(SAT)
 100 ml of freshly collected rumen contents (filtered through gauze if
necessary) is observed as it settles in a glass cyclinder.
 In normal animal
 Fine food particles and infusoria - begin to settle at once
 Larger and more fibrous particles - carried upward, forming broad upper
layer.
 The above process of complete sedimentation and floatation takes 4 to 8
minutes.
 In abnormal cases
 Rapid sedimentation and absent or - inappetence, starvation
 Retarded floatation and feed without nutritive value
 Rapid floatation with abundant foam - Decomposition in rumen
 and solid components remain in suspension for long time
 Absence of solid particles and gas bubbles - Vagus indigestion
 Hence no sedimentation and floatation.
STRATIFICATION/SEDIMENTATION
ACTIVITY TIME (SAT)
CHEMICAL CHARACTERS
Ruminal fluid pH
 Normal
 Ranged between 5.5 – 6.5 (grain feeders) and 6 – 7 (green
fodders).
 Abnormal
 Elevated pH (Rumen alkalosis)
 Simple indigestion
 Urea indigestion
 Putrefaction of ruminal content
 Lowered pH (Rumen acidosis)
 Grain overfeeding
 Chronic ruminal acidosis
CELLULOSE DIGESTION TEST (CDT)
 Take 10 ml of strained rumen fluid and add 0.3 ml of 16%
glucose solution in a capped test tube.
 Suspend a thread of pure cellulose (free from any synthetic
fibre) or single strand of unmercerized cotton thread in the
rumen fluid. The lower end of the cotton thread is tied with a
glass bead or other weight which must immerse in rumen fluid.
 Then tightly close the test tube and incubate at body
temperature (39 ° C) either in incubator or near a light bulb.
 Normally digestion of cellulose takes place within 48-54 hours.
 So, in fully active rumen fluid the weight in the lower end of
cotton thread will fall to the bott
 om of the tube within that time due to digestion of cotton
thread. If the thread has not broken within the normal time, it
should be interpreted as cellulose digestion time is being
delayed due to inactive rumen fluid.
GLUCOSE FERMENTATION TEST
 It is performed in a fermentation saccharometer. Take 10
ml of rumen fluid and add 0.5 ml of 16% glucose solution
in the saccharometer and keep 39 ° C. The result is read
after 30-60 minutes.
 Significance
 Normal rumen fluid containing active microflora will ferment
the glucose and result in formation of gas.
 1-2ml gas/hr - Rumen fluid containing active microflora.
 No gas - Rumen fluid containing inactive microflora and
acute rumen acidosis.
 Decreased gas - Rumen decomposition, reumen alkalosis,
acute rumen acidosis, hydrochloric.
 Normal/increased gas - Latent rumen acidosis.
 Increased gas - Foamy bloat.
REDOX POTENTIAL OR METHYLENE BLUE
REDUCTION TEST (MBRT TEST)
 This is measured by using a redox dye, methylene blue. Take 250 ml of
freshly collected rumen fluid and add 1 ml of 0.03% methylene blue
solution and mix. Measure the time required for decolouration of the
sample using a plain rumen fluid as a basis for comparison.
 Significance
 It is one of the most reliable tests to assess the microbial status of rumen
fluid.
 In normally active microflora - Methylene blue will be reduced within 3
 minutes.
 Only straw ration - 3-6 minutes
 Inactive flora due to ration poor - more than 15 minutes.
 In structure, inappetence - less than 5 minutes in pH above 5.2
 Rumen acidosis - more than 5 minutes in pH below 5.2
 Hydrochloric acidosis - more than 5 minutes
MBRT
NITRITE REDUCTION
 10 ml of strained rumen fluid is placed into each of 3 test
tubes and 0.2 (Tube 1), 0.5 (Tube 2) or 0.7 (Tube 3) ml of
0.025% potassium nitrite solution is added and kept in water
bath at 39°C.
 Every 5 minutes 1 drop from each tube is placed in the small
wells of a ceramic plate and to each drop is added 2 drops
each of reagent I (2 ml of sulfanilic acid in 30% acetic acid to
make 200 ml), and reagent II (0.6 ml alpha-naphthylamine,
16 ml concentrate acetic acid, 140 ml distilled water) until
disappearance of red colour which will provide information
on the activity of microbes that degrade and synthesize
nitrogenous compounds. T
 he presence of red colour indicates that still nitrite is
present.
NITRITE REDUCTION
 Significance
 Rumen fluid from cattle fed with mixed ration - Nitrite
should disappear in
 5-10 minutes – tube 1
 20 minutes – tube 2
 30 minutes – tube 3
 Rumen alkalosis, Green fodder, Ruminal decomposition,
Bloat - Rapid reduction in all tubes.
 Lack of appetite, deficient ration, Hydrochloric acidosis-
Slow reduction in all tubes.
 Acute lactacidosis - No notable reduction even after 45
minutes.
VOLATILE FATTY ACIDS (V.F.A)
 For every 20 ml of rumen fluid, 1 ml of saturated mercuric chloride
solution is added and sent to the laboratory for determining total and
individual fatty acids.
 Significance
 Normal
 Total V.F.A. concentration - 60-120 mol/litre of rumen fluid
 Propionic acid - 20-25 mol%
 Acetic acid - 50-65 mol%
 Butyric acid - 10-20 mol%
 Formic, valeric, caproic and high fatty acids.
 V.F.A. concentration increases on concentrate ration and also 3-5 hours after
feeding.
 V.F.A. concentration decreases on completion of fermentation (pH increased)
 Abnormal
 Loss of appetite, ration poor in - Total V.F.A. decreased.
 Structure, Digestive disorders
 Increasing amount of easily digestible- proportion of individual acids change.
 carbohydrate
CHLORIDE
 To 0.1 ml of the chloride standard solution, add deionized water 1 ml and
put 0.2 ml indicator. Then titrate the standard with mercuric nitrate
solution. The end point is slight, but permanent violet colour. This will be
the standard. Repeat the same with rumen liquor sample.
 Abnormal
 Lactacidosis - Less than 40 mVal/litre
 Hydrochloric acidosis - More than 25-30 mVal/litre
 May increase to 30-100 mVal/litre in
 Reflux of abomasal contents as a result of obstruction
 Supplementation of ration with sodium chloride
 Functional or anatomical pyloric stenosis
 Abomasitis
 Abomasal ulcer
 Sand in stomach or intestine
 Abomasal displacement
 Cellulites of mesentery at its attachment to the abomasums
 Paralytic ileus
TOTAL ACIDITY (TITRATABLE ACIDITY)
 One or 2 drops of phenolphthalein is added to 10 ml of
rumen fluid and the mixture is titrated with N/10
NaoH until it becomes flesh colored.
 The volume of NaOH required (in ml) multiplied by 10
gives clinical units of total acidity.
 Normal rumen fluid - 8-25 clinical units
 Significance
 In hyperacidity (lactic acidosis or hydrochloric acidosis) – upto
70 units.
 Lactacidosis - significantly increased.
 Hydrochloric acidosis - moderately increased.
MICROSCOPICAL EXAMINATION
 Qualitative method
 Quantitative method
PROTOZOA
 Both ciliates and flagellates are present in rumen. But
only ciliates are of physiological importance in virtue
of their number and mass. The majority of ruminal
protozoa belong to the family Oophryoscolecidae.
Their numbers and size distribution provide
information on protozoa activity within the
forstomach.
 Place a drop of rumen fluid on a slide and cover with
a cover glass and examine under lower power (80 or
100 magnification)
BACTERIA
 Gram- negative organism - Red or pink colour
 Gram-positive organism - Violet colour
 Normal: In the normal pH of rumen fluid – Gram-
negative bacteria is dominant.
 Rumen lactacidosis - Proliferation of gram-positive
cocci and rods at the expense of gram-negative
bacteria.
 Hydrochloric acidosis - Gram-positive lesser than
Gram-negative bacteria.
Rumen fluid examination
Qualitative method
Quantitative method

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Rumen fluid examination

  • 1. Rumen fluid examination Dr Vinodh Kumar O.R Senior Scientist ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh
  • 2. Indications  To establish an accurate diagnosis of diseases of the rumen.  It is also essential when rumen fluid is collected for therapeutic transfaunation. (For treatment of acidosis, simple indigestion, rumen stasis, stop rumination and regurgitation).
  • 5. RUMEN FLUID COLLECTION APPARATUS  A specially designed suction strainer.  Three metre nylon tube with perforation at the tip which is covered by a stainless steel spiral sound.  A suction pump.  An air tight sampling bottle with two way “T” joint
  • 6. The common tests that can be conducted with rumen fluid  Colour  Odour  Consistency  Sedimentation activity time (AT) or Stratification  pH  Cellulose digestion test  Glucose fermentation test  Redox potential or Methylene blue reduction test (MBR Test)  Volatile Fatty acids  Total Acidity (Titratable acidity)  Chloride  Protozoa  Bacteria
  • 8. PHYSICAL CHARACTERS Colour  Normal:  Olive to brownish green (hay ration).  Deeper green color (green ration).  Yellowish brown color (grain or silage ration).  Abnormal:  Milky grey (grain overfeeding).  Darker greenish (ruminal stasis/decomposition).  Grey with clots of milk (calves with abomasal reflux).
  • 9. Consistency  Normal:  Slightly viscous.  Abnormal:  Watery ( Inactive bacteria or protozoa).  Excess frothy (Frothy bloat / vagus indigestion).
  • 10. Odor  Normal:  Aromatic odor.  Abnormal:  Ammonia smell (Urea poisoning).  Moldy rotting (Protein putrefaction).  Sour odor (Excess lactic acid / grain overfeeding).
  • 11. STRATIFICATION/ SEDIMENTATION ACTIVITY TIME (SAT)  100 ml of freshly collected rumen contents (filtered through gauze if necessary) is observed as it settles in a glass cyclinder.  In normal animal  Fine food particles and infusoria - begin to settle at once  Larger and more fibrous particles - carried upward, forming broad upper layer.  The above process of complete sedimentation and floatation takes 4 to 8 minutes.  In abnormal cases  Rapid sedimentation and absent or - inappetence, starvation  Retarded floatation and feed without nutritive value  Rapid floatation with abundant foam - Decomposition in rumen  and solid components remain in suspension for long time  Absence of solid particles and gas bubbles - Vagus indigestion  Hence no sedimentation and floatation.
  • 13. CHEMICAL CHARACTERS Ruminal fluid pH  Normal  Ranged between 5.5 – 6.5 (grain feeders) and 6 – 7 (green fodders).  Abnormal  Elevated pH (Rumen alkalosis)  Simple indigestion  Urea indigestion  Putrefaction of ruminal content  Lowered pH (Rumen acidosis)  Grain overfeeding  Chronic ruminal acidosis
  • 14. CELLULOSE DIGESTION TEST (CDT)  Take 10 ml of strained rumen fluid and add 0.3 ml of 16% glucose solution in a capped test tube.  Suspend a thread of pure cellulose (free from any synthetic fibre) or single strand of unmercerized cotton thread in the rumen fluid. The lower end of the cotton thread is tied with a glass bead or other weight which must immerse in rumen fluid.  Then tightly close the test tube and incubate at body temperature (39 ° C) either in incubator or near a light bulb.  Normally digestion of cellulose takes place within 48-54 hours.  So, in fully active rumen fluid the weight in the lower end of cotton thread will fall to the bott  om of the tube within that time due to digestion of cotton thread. If the thread has not broken within the normal time, it should be interpreted as cellulose digestion time is being delayed due to inactive rumen fluid.
  • 15. GLUCOSE FERMENTATION TEST  It is performed in a fermentation saccharometer. Take 10 ml of rumen fluid and add 0.5 ml of 16% glucose solution in the saccharometer and keep 39 ° C. The result is read after 30-60 minutes.  Significance  Normal rumen fluid containing active microflora will ferment the glucose and result in formation of gas.  1-2ml gas/hr - Rumen fluid containing active microflora.  No gas - Rumen fluid containing inactive microflora and acute rumen acidosis.  Decreased gas - Rumen decomposition, reumen alkalosis, acute rumen acidosis, hydrochloric.  Normal/increased gas - Latent rumen acidosis.  Increased gas - Foamy bloat.
  • 16. REDOX POTENTIAL OR METHYLENE BLUE REDUCTION TEST (MBRT TEST)  This is measured by using a redox dye, methylene blue. Take 250 ml of freshly collected rumen fluid and add 1 ml of 0.03% methylene blue solution and mix. Measure the time required for decolouration of the sample using a plain rumen fluid as a basis for comparison.  Significance  It is one of the most reliable tests to assess the microbial status of rumen fluid.  In normally active microflora - Methylene blue will be reduced within 3  minutes.  Only straw ration - 3-6 minutes  Inactive flora due to ration poor - more than 15 minutes.  In structure, inappetence - less than 5 minutes in pH above 5.2  Rumen acidosis - more than 5 minutes in pH below 5.2  Hydrochloric acidosis - more than 5 minutes
  • 17. MBRT
  • 18. NITRITE REDUCTION  10 ml of strained rumen fluid is placed into each of 3 test tubes and 0.2 (Tube 1), 0.5 (Tube 2) or 0.7 (Tube 3) ml of 0.025% potassium nitrite solution is added and kept in water bath at 39°C.  Every 5 minutes 1 drop from each tube is placed in the small wells of a ceramic plate and to each drop is added 2 drops each of reagent I (2 ml of sulfanilic acid in 30% acetic acid to make 200 ml), and reagent II (0.6 ml alpha-naphthylamine, 16 ml concentrate acetic acid, 140 ml distilled water) until disappearance of red colour which will provide information on the activity of microbes that degrade and synthesize nitrogenous compounds. T  he presence of red colour indicates that still nitrite is present.
  • 19. NITRITE REDUCTION  Significance  Rumen fluid from cattle fed with mixed ration - Nitrite should disappear in  5-10 minutes – tube 1  20 minutes – tube 2  30 minutes – tube 3  Rumen alkalosis, Green fodder, Ruminal decomposition, Bloat - Rapid reduction in all tubes.  Lack of appetite, deficient ration, Hydrochloric acidosis- Slow reduction in all tubes.  Acute lactacidosis - No notable reduction even after 45 minutes.
  • 20. VOLATILE FATTY ACIDS (V.F.A)  For every 20 ml of rumen fluid, 1 ml of saturated mercuric chloride solution is added and sent to the laboratory for determining total and individual fatty acids.  Significance  Normal  Total V.F.A. concentration - 60-120 mol/litre of rumen fluid  Propionic acid - 20-25 mol%  Acetic acid - 50-65 mol%  Butyric acid - 10-20 mol%  Formic, valeric, caproic and high fatty acids.  V.F.A. concentration increases on concentrate ration and also 3-5 hours after feeding.  V.F.A. concentration decreases on completion of fermentation (pH increased)  Abnormal  Loss of appetite, ration poor in - Total V.F.A. decreased.  Structure, Digestive disorders  Increasing amount of easily digestible- proportion of individual acids change.  carbohydrate
  • 21. CHLORIDE  To 0.1 ml of the chloride standard solution, add deionized water 1 ml and put 0.2 ml indicator. Then titrate the standard with mercuric nitrate solution. The end point is slight, but permanent violet colour. This will be the standard. Repeat the same with rumen liquor sample.  Abnormal  Lactacidosis - Less than 40 mVal/litre  Hydrochloric acidosis - More than 25-30 mVal/litre  May increase to 30-100 mVal/litre in  Reflux of abomasal contents as a result of obstruction  Supplementation of ration with sodium chloride  Functional or anatomical pyloric stenosis  Abomasitis  Abomasal ulcer  Sand in stomach or intestine  Abomasal displacement  Cellulites of mesentery at its attachment to the abomasums  Paralytic ileus
  • 22. TOTAL ACIDITY (TITRATABLE ACIDITY)  One or 2 drops of phenolphthalein is added to 10 ml of rumen fluid and the mixture is titrated with N/10 NaoH until it becomes flesh colored.  The volume of NaOH required (in ml) multiplied by 10 gives clinical units of total acidity.  Normal rumen fluid - 8-25 clinical units  Significance  In hyperacidity (lactic acidosis or hydrochloric acidosis) – upto 70 units.  Lactacidosis - significantly increased.  Hydrochloric acidosis - moderately increased.
  • 23. MICROSCOPICAL EXAMINATION  Qualitative method  Quantitative method
  • 24. PROTOZOA  Both ciliates and flagellates are present in rumen. But only ciliates are of physiological importance in virtue of their number and mass. The majority of ruminal protozoa belong to the family Oophryoscolecidae. Their numbers and size distribution provide information on protozoa activity within the forstomach.  Place a drop of rumen fluid on a slide and cover with a cover glass and examine under lower power (80 or 100 magnification)
  • 25. BACTERIA  Gram- negative organism - Red or pink colour  Gram-positive organism - Violet colour  Normal: In the normal pH of rumen fluid – Gram- negative bacteria is dominant.  Rumen lactacidosis - Proliferation of gram-positive cocci and rods at the expense of gram-negative bacteria.  Hydrochloric acidosis - Gram-positive lesser than Gram-negative bacteria.