7 September 2020

Feed Additives

Rumen Buffers

Sodium Bicarbonate

Sodium Bicarbonate is the world’s most popular Rumen Buffer, for good reason – it works very well and is highly cost-effective.

Why to feed Sodium Bicarbonate to Ruminants:

Rumen digestive function can be impaired by feeding rations high in cereal, short chop forage, low-pH silage or any other high-starch feeds. If the pH drops low enough then sub-clinical acidosis has many down sides. You can assist the buffering capacity of the cow’s saliva by feeding Sodium Bicarbonate, which dramatically improves digestion and reduces risk of acidosis.

Feeding Sodium Bicarbonate has been shown to:

  • Improve forage intakes
  • Enhance fibre digestion
  • Promote higher milk yields
  • Enhance milk quality
  • Increase butterfat
  • Improve feed conversion rates
  • Improve liveweight gain

Lump Rock Salt

Red lump rock salt for farm use is a common way of promoting additional dry matter intake. Use lump rock salt to drive intake in TMR dairy rations during lactation.

Do not feed to dry cows!

Lump rock salt is also effective at driving water intake (helps to reduce acid load in the rumen). Beware of sodium “oversupply” situations in caustic treated wheat diets. A nutritionist should be consulted before feeding.

Pink rock salt

Magnesium Chloride Flakes

Magnesium Chloride flakes contain 12% magnesium. They are a suitably easy source of readily available magnesium to be fed to dry cows or lactating cows when either a milk fever challenge or grass staggers challenge is suspected. Magnesium chloride flakes are highly soluble and hence can also be dispersed through the water trough if required.


Limestone Flour

Limestone flour is used as a supplementary source of calcium. Limestone Flour is a fine white powder, nominally less than 300 microns. The material has been crushed, milled, dried and screened, then milled and classified again to produce a product of exceptional purity and consistency.

Mistakenly ground limestone flour has often been recommended as a rumen buffer fed at 100gms – 200gms per cow on the grounds of price. It is well absorbed at the very low pH seen in the true stomach but is largely insoluble above about 5.5 pH. Limestone flour is therefore totally unsuitable as a rumen buffer and should not be used as such.