Nutrient intake, acid base status and weight gain in water buffalo calves fed different dietary levels of sodium bicarbonate
The impact of different dietary levels of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on nutrient intake, acid-base status, nitrogen balance and weight gain was examined in growing male buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) calves exposed to hot summer conditions. In a complete randomized block design 60 animals of similar age and weight were divided into five treatment groups of 12 per group. Five isonitrogenous and isoenergetic diets were formulated and randomly allocated to a treatment group. The control diet (0SB) contained no NaHCO3, while diets 4SB, 8SB, 12SB and 16SB contained 0.4, 0.8, 1.2 and 1.6% NaHCO3, respectively. An increase in nutrient intake was recorded with increasing dietary NaHCO3 level while the reverse was true for nutrient digestibility. Calves fed the 12SB and 16SB diets had higher nitrogen retentions than those fed the 0SB and 4SB diets. Significant increases in blood pH, serum HCO3 and urine pH were recorded with increasing NaHCO3 levels, with the highest in calves receiving the 16SB diet. Calves fed the 14SB and 16SB diets gained more weight than those fed the 0SB and 4SB diets. These results indicate that the best nutrient intake, acid-base status, nitrogen retention and weight gain occurred in the calves receiving the diet containing 1.2% NaHCO3.
Keywords: Bubalus bubalis, buffer, ruminal pH, acidosis, weight gain