EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FEEDING MARINE ALGAE AND SEAWEEDS ON RUMINAL DIGESTION USING IN VITRO CONTINUOUS CULTURE FERMENTATION
Continuous culture fermentation (CCF) was used to test the hypotheses that: marine microalgae (MA) and macroalgae (seaweeds) alter rumen microbial metabolism; MA types differ in abilities to provide rumen escape n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA); and algae have the potential to reduce enteric methane emission. The CCF system of Teather and Sauer (1988) was modified to reduce clogging, refrigerate effluent, and allow for determination of gas production. The CCF systems were inoculated with pooled rumen fluid from 4 cows. Total mixed ration was fed at the rate of 30 g DM d-1. Temperature was maintained at 39 oC, and buffered with artificial saliva to maintain pH 6.2. Response variables were measured from effluent digesta (fatty acids, NH4+-N, digestibility), fermentor contents (CCF density, volatile fatty acids), and the gas phase (CO2, CH4). The experimental design for MA testing was a 3**3 factorial. Treatments consisted of heterotrophic and photoautotrophic MA as well as a 1:1 blend with protection levels of zero, 33 and 50 % of encapsulation (w/w), and fluid turnover rates of 5, 7.5, and 10 % h-1. The seaweed treatments consisted of a PEI shoreweed mix containing Laminaria longicruris and Fucus vesiculosus tested as a component of the mix, and Chondrus crispus and Furcellaria fastigiata tested individually. The design for seaweed testing was an unbalanced 5*5 Latin square. The heterotrophic MA destabilized the digesta mat while the autotroph improved stability. Biohydrogenation was extensive for C18 FA in the basal ration (> 90 %) and less for C22:6n3 (75 %) from the heterotroph and C20:5n3 (60 %) from the photoautotroph. The recovery of PUFA was improved by encapsulation, however PUFA in the MA were not greatly affected and digestibility was improved by turnover rate. Seaweeds had no effect on CCF stability, however they reduced CH4 production without reduction in OM digestibility. The heterotroph reduced overall fermentation resulting in diminished density and volatile fatty acids and NH4+-N concentrations. Seaweed supplementation decreased NH4+-N, CO2 and CH4 production, and increased density.