Wheat pasture bloat dynamics, in vitro ruminal gas production, and potential bloat mitigation with condensed tannins.
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The aim of this study was to determine the effect of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) forage growth stage, forage allowance, time of day, and commercial condensed tannins (CT) on steer bloat dynamics and in vitro ruminal gas production. Twenty-six crossbreed steers (Angus x Hereford x Salers; average initial BW = 194 +/- 26 kg) were used. Wheat forage allowances were either 18 kg (high forage allowance) and 6 kg (low forage allowance) of DM/(100 kg BW.d). In each bloat observation period, fresh wheat forage samples were hand-clipped to ground level in all study pastures for nutrient and in vitro ruminal gas production analyses. In vitro ruminal gas accumulation was measured at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 12 h. Commercial CT was added at 0, 10, 15, and 20 mg of CT/g of DM. Bloat was scored once per week on two consecutive days at 0800 and 1500 during the vegetative stage and once every 2 wk during the reproductive stage of wheat development. Mean bloat score was calculated for each steer by time of day, stage of plant growth, and forage allowance. Bloat was detected in 65.8% of the observation periods. Average bloat scores were four and 2.5 times greater (P < 0.05) in cattle grazing at a high forage allowance than at a low forage allowance in the vegetative and reproductive growth phases of wheat, respectively. Rate of gas production was greater (P < 0.001) in the vegetative stage than in the reproductive stage. Steer bloat score was positively correlated with forage CP (r = 0.22; P < 0.05) and IVDMD (r = 0.32; P < 0.05). Rate of ruminal gas production was positively correlated (P < 0.01) to forage CP (r = 0.48), NPN (r = 0.40), soluble protein (r = 0.32), and IVDMD (r = 0.47). Conversely, negative correlations were found for forage DM (r = -0.20; P < 0.05), insoluble protein (r = -0.40), NDF (r = -0.69), and forage height (r = -0.49; P < 0.01) on the rate of ruminal gas production. Addition of CT at levels greater than 10 mg of CT/g of DM decreased (P < 0.05) the rate of in vitro ruminal gas and methane gas production after 5 h of incubation. Wheat pasture bloat is a complex disorder that varies across an array of forage and environmental conditions. Condensed tannins have the potential to decrease bloat by altering ruminal gas production and soluble protein digestibility from wheat forage.