Acute and subacute ruminal acidosis, bloat, liver abscesses, and polioencephalomalacia (PEM) were reviewed with respect to contributions published in the Journal of Animal Science (JAS) regarding these metabolic and digestive disorders in beef cattle. Increased grain feeding and expansion of the feedlot industry in the 1960s led to considerable research on acidosis, and early publications defined ruminal changes with acute acidosis. The concept of subacute acidosis was developed in the 1970s. Significant research was published during the 1980s and 1990s on adaptation to high-grain diets, effects of ionophores, and the development of model systems to study ruminal and metabolic changes in acidosis. Since 2000, JAS publications on acidosis have largely focused on individual animal variability in response to acid loads and the role of management strategies in controlling acidosis. Increased grain feeding also was associated with an increase in the incidence of liver abscesses, which were quickly linked to insults to the ruminal epithelium associated with acidosis. The role of antibiotics, particularly tylosin, in decreasing the incidence and severity of liver abscesses was a significant contribution of JAS publications during the 1970s and 1980s. Papers on bloat were among the earliest published in JAS related to metabolic and digestive disorders in cattle. Noteworthy accomplishments in bloat research chronicled in JAS include the nature of ruminal contents in legume and feedlot bloat, the role of plant fractions and microbial populations in the development of bloat, and the efficacy of poloxalene, ionophores, and, more recently, condensed tannins in decreasing the incidence and severity of bloat. Although less research has been published on PEM in JAS, early publications highlighting the association between PEM and ruminal acidity and the role of thiaminase in certain forms of the disorder, as well as more recent publications related to the role of sulfur in the development of PEM, are noteworthy contributions. Since the 1940s, outstanding and often-cited review articles have made JAS a highly visible source of information on these disorders. Thus, JAS has played a significant role as a repository for information pertaining to metabolic and digestive disorders in cattle and other ruminants, and it will no doubt continue to be a premier resource for information on these conditions during the second century of the American Society of Animal Science.
- Liver abscess