Eight dual-flow continuous culture fermenters (1400 ml) were used in two consecutive periods to study the effects of pH and pH fluctuations on microbial fermentation and nutrient flow. Fermenters were maintained at 39°C, with solid and liquid dilution rates of 5 and 10%/ h, respectively, and fed continuously a 60% alfalfa hay and 40% concentrate diet (18.9% crude protein, 36.6% neutral detergent fiber, 17.6% acid detergent fiber). Treatments were high pH (constant at 6.4); low pH (constant at 5.7); cycles of 4 h at pH 6.4 and 4 h at pH 5.7; and pH constant at 6.4, except for two 30-min drops per day to pH 5.7, followed by a 3-h slow recovery to pH 6.4. The low pH (constant at 5.7) produced lower apparent dry matter, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber digestion, lower total and branch-chained volatile fatty acid concentrations, and lower acetate and higher propionate proportions than high pH (constant at 6.4). There were no differences in these estimates between constant high pH and the two treatments that alternated high pH and low pH. The constant low pH reduced protein degradation and increased nonammonia N and dietary N flow compared with constant high pH. The pH treatments had no effect on bacterial N flow or efficiency of microbial protein synthesis. Flow of essential amino acids was highest for constant low pH and lowest for constant high pH. Results indicate that constant low pH reduced fiber and protein digestion and increased the flow of total and some individual amino acids. However, the effects of transitory decreases of pH were either small or insignificant with the conditions tested in this study.
- Microbial fermentation