Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
Various tannin-complexing agentsw have been used to study the potential adverse effects of tannis on rumen metabolism. Using a method based on turbidity formation, the binding of various tannin-complexing agents (polyvinyl polypyrrolidone (PVPP), polyethylene glycol (PEG) of molecular weights 2000 to 35000, and polyvinyl pyrrolidone (PVP) of molecular weight 10000, 40000 and 360000) to tannins (tannic acid, purified tannins from quebracho (Aspidosperma quebracho) and leaves of trees and shrubs (Acioa barteri, Dichostachys cinerea, Guiera senegalensis, Piliostigma reticulatum)) was investigated at different pH values. The binding of all the tannins with PVPP was highest at pH 3–4 and lowest at pH 7. For all the pH range (3–7) studied, the binding of PEG was higher than that of PVP. For all the tannins except tannic acid, the binding to PVP was the same from pH 4·7 to 7. Similar results were observed for the PEG of molecular weight 6000 or higher for all the tannins except quebracho tannins for which the binding increased as the pH increased from 3 to 7. The binding with PEG 2000 decreased to a greater extent as the pH reached near neutral and for PEG 4000 this decrease was slightly lower. Addition of these tannin-complexing agents to the in vitro gas system resulted in higher gas production from tannin-rich feeds (increase varied from 0 to 135%). The PEG were the most effective followed by PVP and PVPP. The PEG 35000 was least effective. The efficiency of other PEG was similar. The PEG 6000 was preferred to PEG 2000 or 4000 as its binding to tannins was higher at near neutral pH values. The gas production increased with an increase in the amount of PEG 6000 up to 0·6 g/40 ml rumen-fluid-containing medium containing 0·5 g tannin-rich feed, beyond which no increase was observed. The percentage increase in gas value at 24 h fermentation correlated significantly with tannin values, the highest correlation (r 0·95) being with protein precipitation capacity of tannins. The increase in gas production was associated with higher production of short-chain fatty acids with little change in their molar proportions, suggesting an increase in organic matter digestibility by inclusion of the PEG in tannin-rich feeds. However, apparent and true digestibilities were lower on addition of the PEG, due to the presence of PEG-tannin complexes in the residues. The use of this bioassay (percentage increase in gas production in the presence of PEG 6000) along with other tannin assays would provide a better insight into the nutritional significance of tannins.