The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of ruminal fluid pH depression on biochemical indices of blood, urine, feces, and milk, and to determine which of them may be helpful as a marker for the diagnosis of subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA). Ruminal fluid samples were obtained by rumenocentesis from 305 cows representing 13 commercial dairy herds. The herds were selected based on percentages of cows with an assigned value of ruminal fluid pH segregated into three groups as: SARA-positive herd, if at least 25% of the ruminal fluid samples indicated a pH < 5.6; SARA-risk herd, if less than 25% of ruminal fluid samples indicated a pH < 5.6, but at least 33% showed a pH ≤ 5.8; and SARA-negative herd, if less than 25% of the ruminal fluid samples indicated a pH < 5.6, but less than 33% exhibited a pH = 5.8. Moreover, the dairy cows were divided according to the ruminal fluid pH into three groups as follows: healthy cows (HC, pH>5.80, n = 196), risk cows (RC, pH 5.8 - 5.6, n = 51), and acidotic cows (AC, pH < 5.6, n = 58). Almost 19% (58/305) of the cows were classified as acidotic (pH < 5.6) and 46.2% of the herds as SARA-positive. In the AC group, higher concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), rectal temperature and lower blood pH, compared with those of the HC group, were recorded. Moreover, in the SARA-positive herds, higher concentrations of IGF-I and the lowest blood pH, compared with SARA-negative herds, were observed. The lowering of ruminal fluid pH increased the blood IGF-I and NEFA concentrations and the rectal temperature and decreased the blood pH. These measures are indicators of the physiological changes that occur as part of the pathogenesis of the condition and may be helpful for the diagnosis of the SARA syndrome when serial measurements are conducted.
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