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Interpretive Summary: Effects of adding ruminal propionate on dry matter intake and glucose metabolism in steers fed a finishing ration

By: Abigail R Rathert-Williams, Hunter L McConnell, Carlee M Salisbury, Amanda K Lindholm-Perry, David L Lalman, Adel Pezeshki, Andrew P Foote

Propionate metabolism by the liver is thought to be a key regulator of appetite and feed intake of animals, including cattle. Previous research has shown that providing propionate to the rumen of cattle decreases feed intake. Propionate is also a major contributor to glucose for cattle to use as an energy source for growth and maintenance. In this experiment, it was hypothesized that increasing ruminal propionate would depress feed intake and decrease insulin sensitivity. Supplying 300 g of propionate a day to the rumen decreased feed intake and increased the proportion of propionate in the rumen fluid of steers. However, when propionate production was calculated based on feed intake, there was likely no difference in propionate supply to the animal. The lack of increase in propionate supply to the animal could explain the lack of effect on glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and liver gene expression. The lack of an increase in propionate also indicates that the effect of propionate on feed intake could be due to alternative mechanisms than liver metabolism of propionate.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.