|Title||Review: Rumen sensors: Data and interpretation for key rumen metabolic processes|
|Author(s)||Dijkstra, J.; Gastelen, S. Van; Dieho, K.; Nichols, K.; Bannink, A.|
|Source||Animal 14 (2020)S1. - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. S176 - S186.|
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
|Keyword(s)||data analysis - diurnal variation - fermentation - ruminants|
Rumen sensors provide specific information to help understand rumen functioning in relation to health disorders and to assist in decision-making for farm management. This review focuses on the use of rumen sensors to measure ruminal pH and discusses variation in pH in both time and location, pH-associated disorders and data analysis methods to summarize and interpret rumen pH data. Discussion on the use of rumen sensors to measure redox potential as an indication of the fermentation processes is also included. Acids may accumulate and reduce ruminal pH if acid removal from the rumen and rumen buffering cannot keep pace with their production. The complexity of the factors involved, combined with the interactions between the rumen and the host that ultimately determine ruminal pH, results in large variation among animals in their pH response to dietary or other changes. Although ruminal pH and pH dynamics only partially explain the typical symptoms of acidosis, it remains a main indicator and may assist to optimize rumen function. Rumen pH sensors allow continuous monitoring of pH and of diurnal variation in pH in individual animals. Substantial drift of non-retrievable rumen pH sensors, and the difficulty to calibrate these sensors, limits their application. Significant within-day variation in ruminal pH is frequently observed, and large distinct differences in pH between locations in the rumen occur. The magnitude of pH differences between locations appears to be diet dependent. Universal application of fixed conversion factors to correct for absolute pH differences between locations should be avoided. Rumen sensors provide high-resolution kinetics of pH and a vast amount of data. Commonly reported pH characteristics include mean and minimum pH, but these do not properly reflect severity of pH depression. The area under the pH × time curve integrates both duration and extent of pH depression. The use of this characteristic, as well as summarizing parameters obtained from fitting equations to cumulative pH data, is recommended to identify pH variation in relation to acidosis. Some rumen sensors can also measure the redox potential. This measurement helps to understand rumen functioning, as the redox potential of rumen fluid directly reflects the microbial intracellular redox balance status and impacts fermentative activity of rumen microorganisms. Taken together, proper assessment and interpretation of data generated by rumen sensors requires consideration of their limitations under various conditions.