Author: Jeffrey Firkins (The Ohio State University)
Sugars are rapidly and extensively fermented in the rumen. Clearly, adding sugar to a diet already high in ruminally degraded carbohydrates should offer little benefit and could decrease digestibility of fiber, whereas diets that have less-than-optimal rumen degrade carbohydrate probably will benefit the most from addition of sugars. Therefore, dietary situations influence the optimum feeding rate of between 2.5 and 5% supplemental sugar (Broderick and Radloff, 2004; Firkins et al., 2008b). The typical inference is of a double-edged sword in that sugars provide a burst of energy to "jump start" ruminal processes, but excess sugar intake could cause a burst of acid production that promotes acidosis. However, current research complicated these traditional interpretations and adds a different dimension to consider.
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