A buffer block can significantly reduce the severity of short-term subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA), according to research in the January Journal of Dairy Science.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that cows with access to a low-moisture buffer block had less severe drops in mean ruminal pH — 0.2 pH units vs. 0.55 pH units — when exposed to a SARA challenge than cows without access to the blocks. Cows with access to buffer blocks also experienced a shorter time below a pH of 5.6 — 4.1 hours a day vs. 9.7 hours a day — compared to cows without access to the blocks.
The buffer blocks provide a “safety net” in case there is significant variation in the diet. The buffer blocks used in the study were approximately 55 percent molasses, 40 percent sodium bicarbonate and alkalinizer and 5 percent hydrolyzed vegetable oil.