Author(s): Gould DH, Cummings BA, Hamar DW
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Abstract Two groups of 3 120-160-kg Holstein steers were fed a diet high in carbohydrate and low in long fiber and either with or without added sodium sulfate. Prior to and during the course of feeding the experimental diet, the concentrations of rumen hydrogen sulfide gas and rumen fluid sulfide were determined by a simple sulfide detector tube method and by sulfide-selective electrode, respectively. Other measurements included rumen fluid pH, blood creatine kinase, and blood sulfhemoglobin. Two of the 3 steers fed the high-sulfate diet developed signs and lesions of polioencephalomalacia. Clinical signs included episodic ataxia and blunted or absent menace reaction. Increased ruminal H2S gas concentrations occurred in all 3 steers consuming the diet with added sulfate. The onset of clinical signs coincided with the onset of elevated H2S concentrations. These increases were 40-60 times the values measured in the steers consuming the diet without added sulfate. In contrast, increases in rumen fluid sulfide concentrations usually rose to 4 times that of control steers. The steers fed an identical diet but without added sulfate exhibited no signs or lesions of polioencephalomalacia and no elevations of sulfide in rumen gas or fluid. All steers had a modest decrease in rumen fluid pH associated with the transition to the concentrate diet. No significant changes were observed in any of the blood measurements of any of the steers. An additional pair of steers was fed the experimental diet with or without added sulfate to compare the ruminal H2S gas concentrations estimated by H2S detector tubes with those estimated by a different method of analysis utilizing charcoal trapping of H2S, conversion to sulfate, and measurement of the sulfate. Both methods yielded comparable estimates of H2S concentration. Overall, these data indicate that changes in rumen gas cap H2S concentrations are larger than changes in rumen fluid sulfide concentration and the estimation of rumen gas cap H2S concentration may be a practical approach to detecting pathologic increases in ruminal H2S gas. This simple, rapid, minimally invasive method should be useful for estimating the H2S content of ruminal gas under field conditions.
This article was published in J Vet Diagn Invest
and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology