Health & Nutrition Challenges

Rumen Health & Immunity

Rumen health and the immune system of ruminant animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, are closely interconnected. The rumen, which is the largest compartment of the ruminant stomach, plays a crucial role in digestion and nutrient absorption. It is inhabited by a complex microbial population that helps break down fibrous plant materials and converts them into energy sources for the animal.

Rumen Health 

Maintaining a healthy rumen environment is essential for the overall health and productivity of ruminants. Several factors contribute to rumen health, including proper diet, microbial balance and rumen pH.


Ruminants rely on a diet primarily consisting of forage, such as grasses and hay. A well-balanced diet that meets the animal's nutritional requirements is crucial for optimal rumen health. Insufficient or imbalanced nutrition can lead to rumen disturbances and digestive disorders. One factor that can impact rumen health is the use of grains in the diet. While grains can provide energy-rich nutrients, their inclusion should be carefully managed to avoid potential problems. Sudden increases in grain consumption can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the rumen, leading to conditions like acidosis. Proper management practices, such as gradual grain introduction and ensuring a well-balanced diet, are essential to maintain optimal rumen health.

Microbial balance

Microbial balance in the rumen is crucial for maintaining optimal rumen health and function. The rumen is home to a diverse population of microorganisms, including bacteria, protozoa, and fungi, which work together to ferment and break down complex carbohydrates from the animal's diet. This microbial community is responsible for producing enzymes that aid in the digestion of fibrous plant materials, converting them into energy sources for the animal. A balanced microbial population ensures efficient fermentation and nutrient utilization, promoting overall rumen function. An imbalance in the microbial community, such as an overgrowth of certain bacteria or a decrease in protozoa, can disrupt rumen digestion, leading to conditions like acidosis, bloat, or reduced feed efficiency. Therefore, maintaining a healthy microbial balance through proper nutrition, management practices, and regular monitoring is essential for supporting rumen health and optimizing the productivity of ruminants.

Rumen pH

The pH of the rumen is another critical factor in rumen health. A healthy rumen has a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. Maintaining this pH range is essential for the activity and growth of the microbial population responsible for fermentation and digestion in the rumen. Any significant deviations from the optimal pH range can disrupt the microbial balance and impair rumen function. For example, a drop in rumen pH due to factors like sudden increases in grain consumption can lead to acidosis, a condition characterized by excessive acid production. Conversely, an elevated rumen pH can occur in conditions like ruminal alkalosis, affecting microbial activity and nutrient digestion. Monitoring and maintaining proper rumen pH through appropriate feeding practices, balanced diets, and avoiding sudden dietary changes are crucial for promoting rumen health and maximizing the efficiency of nutrient utilization in ruminants.

Ruminant Immunity

The immune system of ruminants defends against pathogens and helps maintain their health and well-being. Ruminants possess both innate and adaptive immune responses.

  • The innate immune defences are the first line of defence against pathogens. Ruminants have physical barriers, such as skin and mucous membranes, which act as the first line of defence. They also produce antimicrobial substances and have immune cells that can quickly recognize and destroy pathogens.
  • Adaptive immunity in ruminants develops over time and provides specific antibodies and immune cells. When exposed to pathogens or vaccines, their immune system produces a targeted response, leading to the production of antibodies that can neutralize the pathogens. Adaptive immunity provides long-term protection against specific pathogens.

Several factors can influence ruminant immunity, including genetics, nutrition, stress, and overall animal health. Proper nutrition, including a balanced diet and adequate intake of essential nutrients, is crucial for optimal immune function in ruminants. Stressors such as transportation, changes in their environment, or poor management practices can compromise immune function and make animals more susceptible to infections. A robust immune system helps ruminants combat infections, reduces the severity and duration of diseases, and promotes overall animal health. It also plays a crucial role in vaccination, as it enables the production of protective antibodies and memory cells upon exposure to vaccines. By maintaining a healthy immune system through proper nutrition, stress management, and disease prevention measures, ruminants can better withstand pathogen challenges and optimize their productivity.

Maintaining a healthy rumen environment and supporting the immune system are essential for the well-being and productivity of ruminants. Proper nutrition, microbial balance, and rumen pH contribute to rumen health and immune responses.

Effect of Live Yeast On Rumen Health & Immunity 

Yeast, particularly Saccharomyces cerevisiae, plays a crucial role in improving rumen health and function through several mechanisms. 

Oxygen Scavenging: The majority of the rumen microbiota are anaerobic. The excess oxygen can disrupt the activity of anaerobic microorganisms responsible for fibre digestion and fermentation. Live yeast stimulates oxygen removal in the rumen, creating favourable conditions for anaerobic bacteria to grow. By scavenging oxygen, yeast helps maintain optimal conditions for rumen microbial populations, supporting efficient digestion and nutrient utilization.

Enhanced Fiber Digestion: Yeast stimulates the proliferation and promotes the activity of fibre-digesting bacteria and protozoa in the rumen. These microorganisms break down complex carbohydrates present in fibrous feeds, such as cellulose and hemicellulose, into volatile fatty acids (VFAs) that serve as an energy source for the animal. 

Stabilization of Rumen pH: Yeast can help stabilize rumen pH, which is essential for optimal rumen function. It aids in maintaining a rumen pH range between 6.0 and 7.0 by supporting the growth of lactate-utilizing bacteria. These bacteria convert lactate, which can accumulate during periods of rapid fermentation (e.g., when transitioning to high-concentrate diets), into VFAs, thereby preventing conditions such as rumen acidosis.

Immune Stimulation: Yeast stimulates the immune system by promoting the production of immune cells and cytokines. This immunomodulatory effect helps enhance the animal's immune response, making it more resilient to pathogens and reducing the risk of infections.

Overall, yeast collectively contributes to improved rumen health, nutrient metabolism, and immune function in ruminants.

Yeast Cell Wall Effect On Rumen Health & Immunity 

The yeast cell wall contains two main components, which are mannan-oligosaccharides and β1.3-β1.6 D-glucan. Mannan oligosaccharides stimulate specific microbial populations in the rumen while binding rumen bacterial endotoxins such as Lipopolysaccharides. In addition, mannan-oligosaccharides bind gut pathogens, thereby preventing attachment and colonization of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. Mannan-oligosaccharides can be as effective as antibiotics in reducing fecal pathogen counts. On the other hand, β-glucan modulates the natural immune response, activating phagocytic cells and subsequently increasing their ability to fight pathogen infections. β-glucan can enhance the response to an acute immune challenge, thus improving the chance of recovery. 

Overall, using live yeast and yeast cell wall in ruminant nutrition offers significant benefits for rumen health and immunity, ultimately contributing to improved animal performance and productivity.

Biofeed's gut health and performance program offers a wide range of probiotic, prebiotic and immune stimulant solutions.
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Learn more about Biofeed's gut health solutions for ruminants.

Effect of Selenium Yeast  On Rumen Health & Immunity 

Selenium is an essential trace mineral that acts as a cofactor for various enzymes involved in antioxidant defence and immune function. In ruminants, selenium yeast plays a crucial role in rumen health and immunity. Selenium yeast, a form of organic selenium, provides a highly bioavailable and safe source of this mineral. It helps support rumen health by promoting the activity of antioxidant enzymes, which protect rumen cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This antioxidant activity helps maintain a healthy rumen environment and supports optimal rumen function.

Furthermore, selenium yeast enhances the immune response in ruminants by supporting the production of antibodies and immune cells. It plays a vital role in the development and function of the immune system, which helps protect against pathogens and improve disease resistance. The inclusion of selenium yeast in the diet of ruminants can contribute to overall rumen health, enhance the immune system, and improve productivity.

Biofeed's health and immunity by nutrition program offer essential minerals and nutritional solutions to support your animal's health and immunity at every stage.
Biofeed's health and immunity by nutrition program
Learn more about Biofeed's health and immunity by nutrition program

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