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Effect of presence of rumen protozoa on degradation of cell wall constituents in gastrointestinal tract of cattle

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The cell wall constituents of feces from three faunated and three defaunated (without ruminal ciliate protozoa) cattle fed on a Sudangrass hay and concentrate mixture (8:5) were analyzed. There was little difference in digestibility of dry matter between the faunated and defaunated cattle. Analysis of the fecal sugar residues revealed that the digestibilities of arabinose and galactose, derived from pectic and hemicellulosic substances located within the compound middle lamella, were higher in the defaunated cattle than the faunated cattle (P < 0.05), whereas the digestibilities of glucose and xylose, derived mainly from cellulose and xylan, were unchanged by the removal of protozoa. The digestibility of lignin was not different between the faunated and defaunated cattle, but those of mannose and p-coumaric acid were lower in the defaunated than in the faunated animals (P < 0.05). The ratio of primary cell wall to secondary cell wall in fecal plant materials was lower for the defaunated than for the faunated cattle. The results in this study suggested that the defaunation enhanced the microbial degradation of the thin cell walls, but depressed the degradation of developed cell walls.
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Keywords: cattle; cell wall degradation; defaunation; lignin; ruminal protozoa

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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