Influence of flavomycin on ruminal fermentation and microbial populations in sheep

J. E. Edwards, N. R. McEwan, N. McKain, N. D. Walker, R. J. Wallace

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Flavomycin is a phosphoglycolipid antibiotic that promotes growth in ruminants. The aim of this study was to characterize the effects of flavomycin on ruminal micro-organisms and their metabolic consequences. In sheep receiving a mixed grass hay/concentrate diet, inclusion of 20 mg flavomycin day(-1) decreased ruminal ammonia and total volatile fatty acid concentrations (P < 0(.)001), but the acetate : propionate ratio was unchanged. Ruminal pH tended to be lower with flavomycin, and ammonia-production rates of ruminal digesta from control animals measured in vitro tended to be inhibited by flavomycin. Pure-culture studies indicated that anaerobic fungi, protozoa and most bacterial species were insensitive to flavomycin. Fusobacterium necrophorum was the most sensitive species tested, along with some high-activity ammonia-producing (HAP) species. Effects on F necrophorum in vivo were inconsistent due to large inter-animal variation. HAP numbers appeared to be decreased. Changes in the rumen bacterial-community structure were assessed by using denaturing-gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of rumen digesta 16S rRNA. DGGE profiles differed from animal to animal, but remained consistent from day to day. The community structure changed when flavomycin was introduced. The roles of F necrophorum and HAP species in ammonia formation and of F necrophorum in the invasion of wall tissue are consistent with the observed effects of flavomycin on ruminal ammonia formation and, in other studies, on decreasing tissue-turnover rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-725
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Fusobacterium necrophorum
  • rumen fermentation
  • ammonia production
  • wool growth
  • bacteria
  • protein
  • microorganisms
  • peptidoglycan
  • salinomycin
  • enumeration
  • volatile fatty acids
  • denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis
  • high-activity ammonia-producing
  • pancreatic casein hydrolysate


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