Inoculation with rumen fluid in early life accelerates the rumen microbial development and favours the weaning process in goats
Background: Newborn ruminants possess an underdeveloped rumen which is colonized by microorganisms acquired from adult animals and the surrounding environment. This microbial transfer can be limited in dairy systems in which newborns are separated from their dams at birth. This study explores whether the direct inoculation of fresh or autoclaved rumen fluid from adult goats to newborn kids has a beneficial effect on rumen microbial development and function.Results: Repetitive inoculation of
... g kids with fresh rumen fluid from adult goats adapted to forage (RFF) or concentrate diets (RFC) accelerated microbial colonization of the rumen during the pre-weaning period leading to high protozoal numbers, a greater diversity of bacterial (+234 OTUs), methanogens (+6 OTUs) and protozoal communities (+25 OTUs) than observed in control kids (CTL) without inoculation. This inoculation also increased the size of the core bacterial and methanogens community and the abundance of key rumen bacteria (Ruminococcaceae, Fibrobacteres, Veillonellaceae, Rikenellaceae, Tenericutes), methanogens (Methanobrevibacter ruminantium, Methanomicrobium mobile and Group 9), anaerobic fungi (Piromyces and Orpinomyces) and protozoal taxa (Enoploplastron, Diplodinium, Polyplastron, Ophryoscolex, Isotricha and Dasytricha) before weaning whereas CTL kids remained protozoa-free through the study. Most of these taxa were positively correlated with indicators of the rumen microbiological and physiological development (higher forage and concentrate intakes and animal growth during the post-weaning period) favouring the weaning process in RFF and RFC kids in comparison to CTL kids. Some of these microbiological differences tended to decrease during the post-weaning period, although RFF and RFC kids retained a more complex and matured rumen microbial ecosystem than CTL kids. Inoculation with autoclaved rumen fluid promoted lower development of the bacterial and protozoal communities during the pre-weaning period than using fresh inocula, but it favoured a more rapid microbial development during the post-weaning than observed for CTL kids.Conclusions: This study demonstrated that inoculation of young ruminants with fresh rumen fluid from adult animals accelerated the rumen microbial colonization which was associated with an earlier rumen functional development. This strategy facilitated a smoother transition from milk to solid feed favoring the animal performance during post-weaning and minimizing stress.