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This NebGuide discusses why acidosis occurs, its economic considerations, and methods to prevent and treat acidosis.
Acidosis is the most important nutritional disorder in feedlots today. Caused by a rapid production and absorption of acids from the rumen when cattle consume too much starch (primarily grain) or sugar in a short period of time, acidosis causes cattle to be stressed. As long as cattle are finished on grain, cows are grazed on cornstalk fields (grain consumption) or high energy (grain) diets are fed to dairy cows, acidosis will be an important problem.
Cattle evolved digesting roughages that ferment slowly in the rumen. The rumen microbes of a forage-fed animal are selected for fiber digestion. Adjusting cattle to high grain diets from predominantly forage diets disrupts the normal microbial environment and precipitates acidosis.