Journal of dairy science

Interaction of unsaturated fat or coconut oil with monensin in lactating dairy cows fed 12 times daily. I. Protozoal abundance, nutrient digestibility, and microbial protein flow to the omasum.

PMID 22459850


Monensin (tradename: Rumensin) should reduce the extent of amino acid deamination in the rumen, and supplemental fat should decrease protozoal abundance and intraruminal N recycling. Because animal-vegetable (AV) fat can be biohydrogenated in the rumen and decrease its effectiveness as an anti-protozoal agent, we included diets supplemented with coconut oil (CNO) to inhibit protozoa. In a 6 × 6 Latin square design with a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of treatments, 6 rumen-cannulated cows were fed diets without or with Rumensin (12 g/909 kg) and either no fat (control), 5% AV fat, or 5% CNO. The log10 concentrations (cells/mL) of total protozoa were not different between control (5.97) and AV fat (5.95) but were decreased by CNO (4.79; main effect of fat source). Entodinium and Dasytricha decreased as a proportion of total cells from feeding CNO, whereas Epidinium was unchanged in total abundance and thus increased proportionately. Total volatile fatty acid concentration was not affected by diet, but the acetate:propionate ratio decreased for CNO (1.85) versus control (2.95) or AV fat (2.58). Feeding CNO (23.8%) decreased ruminal neutral detergent fiber digestibility compared with control (31.1%) and AV fat (30.5%). The total-tract digestibility of NDF was lower for CNO (45.8%) versus control (57.0%) and AV fat (54.6%), with no difference in apparent organic matter digestibility (averaging 69.8%). The omasal flows of microbial N and non-ammonia N were lower for CNO versus control and AV fat, but efficiency of microbial protein synthesis was not affected. The dry matter intake was 4.5 kg/d lower with CNO, which decreased milk production by 3.1 kg/d. Main effect means of dry matter intake and milk yield tended to decrease by 0.7 and 1.2 kg/d, respectively, when Rumensin was added. Both percentage and production of milk fat decreased for CNO (main effect of fat source). An interaction was observed such that AV decreased milk fat yield more when combined with Rumensin. Using large amounts of supplemental fat, especially CNO, to decrease abundance of protozoa requires further research to characterize benefits versus risks, especially when combined with Rumensin.