Microbial protein supply from the rumen

RJ Dewhurst*, DR Davies, RJ Merry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

195 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers the theory, assessment and prediction of microbial protein synthesis in the rumen. The difficulties of techniques for assessing microbial protein synthesis, as well as the complexity of the rumen ecosystem, have limited progress. Inconsistencies in the literature undermine the value of incorporating advanced rumen models into rationing schemes and limit the exploitation of microbial protein as an important protein resource for ruminants. The paper gives examples of situations in which particular factors have significant effects on microbial protein synthesis, but moves on to discuss the development of new less-invasive approaches for estimating microbial protein synthesis. The latter approaches have the attraction of offering in-built technology transfer through the development of diagnostic tests, based on samples of milk or urine. Some of these techniques offer a description of rumen function that is less rigorously quantitative (in terms of microbial protein synthesis), but more usefully qualitative (in terms of microbial populations, substrates and interactions).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPrint publication - May 2000


  • Rumen
  • Microbial composition
  • Microbial synthesis
  • Odd-chain fatty acids
  • Purine derivatives


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