Summary: Five gnotobiotic lambs were fed on sterile diets until they were killed at 13 to 21 weeks of age. They were dosed orally with different combinations of 11 species of rumen bacteria. The biochemical reactions of each of the bacteria inoculated had been determined in pure culture and they were chosen to perform the main reactions known to be associated with digestion in the normal mature rumen.

Two of the bacteria could not be reisolated, but the remainder had established readily in the rumen, forming stable, mixed, defined populations. The total numbers of bacteria in the rumen, and the viable counts of most of the individual species were comparable to those of normal sheep. The concentration of volatile fatty acids was lower, however, and in four of the lambs there was a higher proportion of butyric acid and a lower proportion of propionic acid than in normal sheep. Cellulolytic, ureolytic, and methanogenic activities appeared to be taking place and lactate-utilizing bacteria appeared to reverse the accumulation of lactate which resulted from the activity of lactate-producing bacteria.

Some of the bacteria also established at high levels in the caecum.


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