Ruminant animals are the most important source of meat and milk consumed by humans. In addition, they do not need to compete with humans for food but can thrive on feed unsuitable for monogastric animals.
The particular nature of ruminant digestion and the special role played by the rumen micro-organisms involves an extra dimension of complexity compared with other mammals. Feeding ruminants is, at least in part, the process of feeding the complex community of microorganisms of all types that inhabit the rumen. The interplay between the members of this community and their host is not only of great intrinsic interest, but of vital importance if the world's ruminants are to be fed and managed to give the best results.
Particular progress has been made in the last decade in the understanding of rumen fungi and their role in digestion. New methods of measuring amino acid requirements have also been developed and led to some interesting observations in this respect. Improved studies of urea recycling and the measurement of purine excretion have enabled better estimates of rumen microbial protein production, as well as progress in how to manipulate fat stores in ruminants via protein supply.
In the Second Edition of his book, Dr. Orskov brings this subject up to date, providing both a comprehensive reference and an invaluable primer for advanced students and research scientists in animal nutrition and husbandry. Particular attention has been paid to management systems able to put this new knowledge to work in practical situations.
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