This study investigates the effects of supplementing a control diet (CON) with chitosan (CHI) or ivy fruit saponins (IVY) as natural feed additives. Both additives had similar abilities to decrease rumen methanogenesis (-42% and -40%, respectively) using different mechanisms: due to its antimicrobial and nutritional properties CHI promoted a shift in the fermentation pattern towards propionate production which explained about two thirds of the decrease in methanogenesis. This shift was achieved by a simplification of the structure in the bacterial community and a substitution of fibrolytic (Firmicutes and Fibrobacteres) by amylolytic bacteria (Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria) which led to greater amylase activity, lactate and microbial protein yield with no detrimental effect on feed digestibility. Contrarily, IVY had negligible nutritional properties promoting minor changes in the fermentation pattern and on the bacterial community. Instead, IVY modified the structure of the methanogen community and decreased its diversity. This specific antimicrobial effect of IVY against methanogens was considered its main antimethanogenic mechanism. IVY had however a negative impact on microbial protein synthesis. Therefore, CHI and IVY should be further investigated in vivo to determine the optimum doses which maintain low methanogenesis but prevent negative effects on the rumen fermentation and animal metabolism.
Bibliographical note© FEMS 2015.
- Feed additive
- Ivy fruit saponins
- Rumen fermentation