The influence of Megasphaera elsdenii on rumen morphometrics of cull cows immediately stepped up to a high-energy finishing diet

Jonathan C. DeClerck, Nathan R. Reeves, Mark F. Miller, Bradley J. Johnson, Gary A. Ducharme, Ryan J. Rathmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Forty-five beef cull cows [body weight (BW) = 503 ± 58 kg; body condition score (BCS) = 2.1 ± 0.6] were randomized into two treatments to compare the effects of oral drenching of no probiotic vs. 100 mL of Megasphaera elsdenii NCIMB 41125 (M. elsdenii culture; Lactipro Advance; 2 × 108 cfu/mL; MS Biotec, Inc., Wamego, KS) on the realimentation of cull cows. The study featured a rapid 0-d step-up of concentrate-naïve cull cows to a 90% concentrate diet (1.43 Mcal/kg of NEg). The cows were finished for 35 d and were fitted with a wireless rumination tag (Allflex Flex Tag; SCR Engineers, Ltd, Netanya, Israel), which tracked head movement to record eating and chewing activity. Rumen morphometrics was recorded on the harvest floor, with each carcass assigned a rumenitis score, and a fragment of the cranial sac removed for further papillae analysis. An additional 23, thin, non-fed cull cows were harvested at the same abattoir to compare the effects of concentrate realimentation on ruminal morphometrics. Megasphaera elsdenii culture-drenched cattle registered a 13.3% increase in rumination time (39.27 min/d, P = 0.03) during the first week of the trial compared to controls. A numerical rumination advantage for M. elsdenii culture-administered cattle was observed during week 2 of trial (P = 0.17), with no differences between treatments from weeks 3 to 5 (P ≥ 0.40). Subjective rumenitis evaluations approached a tendency (P = 0.12), with non-M. elsdenii culture-drenched concentrate-fed cattle logging twice the score of their day 0 cohorts (2.52 vs. 1.17) suggesting considerable lactic insults occurred to the ruminal epithelium in the short 35-d trial. Despite the short feeding duration, concentrate realimentation prompted a significant improvement in mean papillae area (P < 0.01). Among concentrate-fed treatments, M. elsdenii culture-drenched cattle posted superior absorptive surface area (P = 0.01) and a greater ratio of papillae area of absorptive surface area (P = 0.05), suggesting that M. elsdenii culture is favorably altering the ecology of the rumen and promoting papillae growth perhaps by mitigating lactate-driven pH drops. In conclusion, M. elsdenii culture application in a 0-d step-up protocol to finishing diets can help mitigate the effects of ruminal acidosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-205
Number of pages12
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cull cow
  • Lactipro
  • Megasphaera elsdenii
  • Papillae
  • Rumen morphometrics
  • Rumination


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