Source: By Elizabeth Ng, University of Alberta
It’s safe, inexpensive, easy to do, and will help dairy cows digest their dinner better.
University of Alberta researcher Burim Ametaj and his research group found that soaking barley grain and heating it at low temperature with lactic acid before it’s fed to dairy cows will prevent a common digestive disorder.
Subacute rumen acidosis, or SARA, is caused when the rumen (one of four compartments in a cow’s stomach) has an acid imbalance because of the fermentation of the starch in cows’ diets. SARA can result in severe digestion problems and even metabolic disorders.
Ametaj says barley grain is an important source of energy which dairy cows need to produce milk. It’s also relatively cheap and plentiful, particularly in western Canada. However, barley’s starch content can also cause SARA.
The industry has tried to solve the problem by roasting, steam rolling or even using formaldehyde to process the barley before it’s fed to cows. None of them are cost-efficient and some may even pose health risks to the processors.