The Effect of Pilocarpine on Digestive Efficiency in Beef Cattle Fed a High Concentrate Diet
Kroger, Alice M.
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The high concentrate diet commonly fed to cattle intended for beef production can induce increased production of lactic acid during carbohydrate breakdown in the rumen. The resulting drop in the pH of the rumen can cause acidosis and decreased feed efficiency. The saliva of the ruminant contains buffers which prevent decreased ruminal pH. The net flow of saliva is reduced by high concentrate diets resulting in decreased buffering in the rumen and slower rumen turnover rates. Pilocarpine is a muscarinic agent that increases salivary flow. Therefore, it was hypothesized that pilocarpine would counteract the decreased feed efficiency arising from reduced salivary flow and increased acid production occurring with the high concentrate diet. Pilocarpine was fed in 0 mg/kg, 2 mg/kg and 4 mg/kg body weight doses. A treatment effect was not observed in the digestibilities of dry matter, organic matter or nitrogen, feed efficiency, fractional liquid dilution rate or liquid rumen volume. Nitrogen retention, an indicator of tissue growth, was slightly depressed by pilocarpine. Pilocarpine does not increase the digestive efficiency of immature beef cattle on a high concentrate diet.