There are a number of signs of acidosis to watch out for in your herd. For dairy cattle, milk fat less than 3.3% can indicate that the rumen isn’t functioning well and acidosis a likely culprit. Finishing cattle, particularly bulls, will be agitated, which is not surprising for men with belly-ache! They will fight and mount each other, which you may think is normal, however, bulls that are in settled groups should spend their days either eating or lying down and not wasting energy in aggressive behaviour. Feed intakes can often be erratic with variation between animals and between days. The muck can be variable either loose with bubbling or firm and smelly and may contain casts. There may also be undigested food particles in the muck even when processing of the diet has been OK. Increased numbers of lame animals, particularly laminitis can also be an indicator of acidosis. Also, watch out for ridges on the hoof surface too.

Acidosis arises from starchy / sugary diets, or from silages which have low neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and high potential acid load (PAL). Acidosis can also be a problem when cattle are grazing lush grass or new leys that are high in sugar. Diets based on bakery waste, bread, potatoes or too finely ground cereals are a recipe for acidosis if not handled carefully.

This year, farmers may be considering using cereals to finish lambs; good levels of finish can be achieved by doing this, but it is likely to result in acidosis.

Acidosis can result in long term damage to the gut which reduces their productive capacity. So, what can be done? We have seen tremendous results on farms that have used Actisaf yeast in their rations. For example, when I called in at one beef finishing unit, rearing black & white bulls, animals were extremely restless, mounting and fighting each other. Also, feed particles were found in the muck indicating poor rumen function and costing the farmer money. I suggested including Actisaf yeast in the diet. On my next visit I was pleased to see cattle either lying down or feeding, with not one animal in the shed showing agitated behaviour. In fact, the farmer told me that he had seen an improvement after only one day of using the Actisaf yeast.

Ask your rep or ring the office to discuss inclusion of Actisaf yeast in diets for your cattle & sheep.

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