Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Animal and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. David L. Harmon


Transitioning cattle from a high-forage to a high-concentrate diet increases the risk for ruminal acidosis and is often related to decreased feed intake, which compromises animal health and performance. Since control of feed intake and rumen motility are closely related, we hypothesized that a reduction in rumen motility may be associated with a reduction in feed intake during this transition. Computer programs were created to analyze feed disappearance and rumen pressure data for feeding behavior as well as identification and characterization of rumen contractions, respectively. This method enabled timely analysis of large datasets and removed subjectivity associated with manual analysis. In the second part of this series, cattle were moderately transitioned from a 70% to a 90% concentrate diet, and SARA was induced. Although, reductions in feed intake were modest, on day 2 of high-grain feeding, animals slowed feed consumption rate and displayed a reduction in rumen contraction frequency, amplitude, and duration. Next, an abrupt transition from 50% to 90% concentrate was used to induce ruminal acidosis and cause some animals to stop eating. The abrupt increase in dietary concentrate was also associated with reductions in rumen motility. Patterns of ruminal pH, viscosity, and motility changes were related to when cattle reduced feed intake. Endotoxin quantification in blood samples from the ruminal vein, portal vein, and mesenteric artery suggested the point of endotoxin translocation into blood was across the ruminal epithelium. Additionally, the greater the concentration of endotoxin in the plasma, the more likely animals were to go “off-feed.” By understanding the physiological and behavioral mechanisms by which cattle adapt to high-grain diets, we can improve animal health and performance through these diet transitions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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