Effects of dietary fibre level on rumen pH, total microbial count and methanogenic archaea in Bonsmara and Nguni steers
A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of the level of dietary fibre on rumen pH, total microbial count and methanogenic archaeacount of Bonsmara (225 ± 10.0 kg live weight) and Nguni (215 ± 10.0 kg live weight) steers. Nine steers per breed were used, aged 8 to 9 months. A 3 x 2 factorial experiment was executed with treatments allocated in a completely randomized design. The treatments were diets which included 64.3% neutral detergent fibre (NDF) for diet 1, 40.4% NDF for diet 2, and 29.9% NDF for diet 3. Steers were fed for 90 days and housed in individual pens. Rumen fluid was collected from steers using a stomach tube. Rumen fluid samples were taken immediately to the laboratory for microbial assay. Data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA). The various levels of dietary fibre did not affect rumen pH and methanogenic archaea count. However, a low-fibre diet yielded high rumen total microbial count for Bonsmara steers and low rumen total microbial count for Nguni steers. Therefore, a low-fibre diet can be applied as a viable strategy to enhance rumen total microbial count in exotic beef breeds and crossbred cattle such as Bonsmara. Nguni steers fed a high NDF diet had higher rumen total microbial count than Nguni steers fed a low-fibre diet. Therefore, a high NDF diet can be used efficiently by feeding it to indigenous breeds and purebred cattle such as Nguni.