A buffer block can significantly reduce the severity of short-term subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA), according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reporting in this month's edition of Journal of Dairy Science, researchers found that cows with access to a low-moisture buffer block had less severe drops in mean ruminal pH — 0.2 pH units versus 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. They are known commercially as Buffer-lyx and come in three sizes: 250-pound steel barrel, 200-pound plastic barrel and 200-pound biodegradable "biobarrel."

For more information on the type of buffer blocks used in this study, go to: www.dairylyx.com.