Microbial Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 311–316 | Cite as

Ruminal microbial populations and fermentation characteristics in bison and cattle fed high- and low-quality forage

  • Gene Towne
  • T. G. Nagaraja
  • R. C. Cochran


Ruminal microbial populations and fermentation products were compared between two ruminally cannulated bison (375 kg) and two ruminally cannulated Hereford steers (567 kg) on alfalfa or prairie hay diets. Differential media were used to enumerate carbohydrate-specific bacterial subgroups. Voluntary dry matter intake was higher (P=0.006) for cattle than for bison fed alfalfa, but prairie hay intake was not different (P=0.16) between the two species. Volatile fatty acid concentrations, pH, and ruminal ammonia were similar between bison and cattle on both diets. Total anaerobic bacteria and xylanolytic bacterial counts were higher (P<0.02) in bison than in cattle fed alfalfa. However, with the prairie hay diet, no differences in bacterial counts on any medium were observed between ruminant species. Both bison and cattle possessed a mixed A-B protozoan population with nearly identical protozoan numbers and distribution of genera. The similarities between bison and cattle consuming either high-or low-quality forage suggest that any differences in putative forage digestibility between the species are not due to differences in microbial counts.


Fermentation Bacterial Count Volatile Fatty Acid Fatty Acid Concentration Volatile Fatty Acid Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gene Towne
    • 1
  • T. G. Nagaraja
    • 1
  • R. C. Cochran
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Sciences and IndustryKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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