1. Lambs were removed form their dams at 2 d of age, and at 5 weeks of age eitht of one group were incoulated with a mixed rumen ciliate and seven in a second group were maintained ciliate-free throughout the 61 weeks of the experiment. Performance of the groups was compared when given a 2:1 roughage:concentrate diet as a set ration and with ad lib. roughage.
2. Mixed ciliate populations developed in all faunated lambs and average-sized populations were maintained. Large numbers of flagellate protozoa developed in the ciliate-free animals after flagellates had been introduced into the building with the ciliate-free animals after flagellates had been introduced into the building with the ciliate inoculum.
3. Higher numbers of rumen bacteria were found in the ciliate-free group.
4. Only between the 14th and 21st weeks was there a significant different between groups in weight gain and this was infavour of the faunated group. The only significant different in body measurements was greater girth in the ciliate-free lambs.
5. Only minor differences were found between the groups in calorimetric trials, digestibility and nitrogen balanes. There were no differences between groups in concentration of total protein N and soluble sugar in the rumen. The ammonis concentration was significantly higher in the faunated group.
6. The concentrations of total rumen volatile fatty acids (VFA) were higher in the faunated group. Differences, between groups, in proportions of VFA were attributed to the activity of the rumen bacteria rather than the ciliates per se.
7. No differences between groups were found in the concentrations of blood sugar and haemoglobin.
8. It was concluded that the changes due to the presence of rumen ciliates were not great enough to be reflected in animal performance under the conditions of this experiment.
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