Starch-rich diets can cause subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) in dairy cows with potentially different susceptibility according to lactation number. We wanted to evaluate the bacterial community and the fermentation end products in feces to study susceptibility to hindgut acidosis and dysbiosis. Sixteen dairy cows received a medium-concentrate diet (MC, 40% concentrate, 18.8% starch) for one week and a high-concentrate diet (HC, 60% concentrate, 27.7% starch, DM) for four weeks. Milk yield, dry-matter intake, chewing activity, ruminal pH, milk constituents, and fecal samples for short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), pH, and 16S rRNA-gene sequencing were investigated. The HC feeding caused a reduction in fecal pH, bacterial diversity and richness, an increase in total SCFA, and a separate phylogenetic clustering of MC and HC samples. Ruminal and fecal pH had fair correlation (r
= 0.5). Cows in the second lactation (2ndL) had lower dry matter intake (DMI) than cows of third or fourth or more lactations (3rdL; ≥4 L), whereas DMI/kg body weight was lower for ≥4 L than for 2ndL and 3rdL cows. The mean ruminal pH was highest in ≥4 L, whereas the time spent below the SARA threshold was highest for 3rdL cows. The latter also had higher total SCFA in the feces. Our results suggest that hindgut dysbiosis is caused by increased substrate flow to the hindgut, but further investigations are needed to define hindgut acidosis. The 3rdL cows were most susceptible to rumen acidosis and hindgut dysbiosis due to high DMI level, but missing counter regulations, as suggested happening in 2ndL and ≥4 L cows.
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