Research articles

By Dr. Gurpreet Singh , Dr. Rajvir Singh , Dr. Digvijay Singh
Corresponding Author Dr. Gurpreet Singh
Veterinary Physiology and Biochemistry, GADVASU,Ludhiana., - India 141001
Submitting Author Dr. Gurpreet Singh
Other Authors Dr. Rajvir Singh
Department of Veterinary physiology and Biochemistry, College of veterinary Sciences, GADVASU, ludhiana - India 141001

Dr. Digvijay Singh
Department of Veterinary Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Veterinary sciences, GADVASU, ludhiana - India 141001


Buffalo, Calves, UMMB, Rumen microbes, Rumen metabolites

Singh G, Singh R, Singh D. Effect of UMMB (Urea Molasses Mineral Block) supplementation on rumen profile in buffaloes. WebmedCentral VETERINARY MEDICINE 2013;4(7):WMC004340
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2013.004340

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License(CC-BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Submitted on: 19 Jul 2013 05:03:46 AM GMT
Published on: 19 Jul 2013 05:27:30 AM GMT


Effect of UMMB supplementation on rumen profile in buffalo calves was undertaken with the objectives to study the effect of UMMB on rumen microbiology and rumen metabolites. Eight apparently healthy male buffalo calves of 10 to12 months age and weighing between 100 to 150 kg were used as experimental animals. They were divided in to control and treatment groups consisting of 4 animals in each group. The animals of group I were kept as control for normal study and the animals of group II were supplemented with UMMB ad-lib. Rumen liquor samples were collected before feeding (0 hr) and at 3 hr after feeding for 3 consecutive days after a period of microbial adaptation. The results revealed that there was (p<0.05) increase in total bacterial count viable bacterial count and total protozoal count in UMMB supplemented group compared to control. Rumen pH, concentration of total volatile fatty acids, molar proportion of propionic acids, total nitrogen and ammonia nitrogen also showed significant increase in group II however molar proportion of acetic acid and butyric acid significantly decreased in group supplemented with UMMB. It can be concluded from the present investigation that oral supplementation of UMMB enhanced the microbial population and improved the concentration of rumen metabolites.


To ensure a high rate of milk production, particularly during the dry season, farmers feed large quantities of high-priced concentrates to their animal, which often limits profit margins. Feeding molasses and urea in the form of a block is convenient and economically feasible for small-scale farmers. Urea-molasses mineral block licks can improve the utilization of low quality roughages by satisfying the requirement of the rumen microorganisms, creating a better environment for the fermentation of fibrous material and increasing production of microbial protein and volatile fatty acids. Urea, after hydrolyzing into ammonia in the rumen, provides a nitrogen source for the rumen microflora. Molasses is a source of readily fermentable energy. Therefore keeping in view the importance of rumen micro-organisms in ruminant digestion, the present investigation was carried out to evaluate the effect of UMMB supplementation on rumen microbiology and metabolites.


Eight apparently healthy male buffalo calves, 10 to 12 month old and weighing 100 to 120 kg were divided into 2 equal groups. Both the groups were kept on conventional diet consisting of wheat straw, green fodder, concentrate and mineral mixture as per the recommendations of NRC (NRC 2001). Group I served as healthy control and the animals of Group II were subjected to ad-lib supplementation of UMMB for 21 days .The animals of both the groups were operated for rumen fistulation on left flank. Rumen liquor samples were collected through rumen fistula from various positions and depths to obtain representative samples with the help of suction pump before and 3 h after feeding. Each animal was sampled for 3 consecutive days after the period of microbial adaptation. Total bacterial count was performed as per the method of Gall et al (1949) using nigrosine slide technique. Viable bacterial count was done as per the method of Hobson (1969). Total protozoal  count in rumen was made according to Naga and El-Shazly (1969). The pH of rumen liquor was determined with portable digital pH meter immediately after taking samples. Total volatile fatty acids in rumen fluid were calculated by the method of Barnett and Reid (1957).The individual portion of volatile fatty acids, total nitrogen, in SRL, NH3-N and total free amino acids were determined as per (Bernard and Charles 1968), (McKenzie and Wallace 1954), (Conway microdiffusion technique of Conway 1957), and (Lee and Takahashi 1966) respectively. The data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA)- two factor without replication as per (Snedecor and Cocharn 1994).


Total bacterial count increased at 0 and 3 h post feeding (Table 1), which was significantly more in UMMB supplemented buffalo calves than the control group. However viable bacterial count increased significantly at 3 h post feeding and non significantly at 0 h in UMMB supplemented group compared to control. Similarly Srinivas and Gupta (1997) recorded significant higher bacterial pool size and bacterial production rate in cattle supplemented with UMMB. The increase in microbial numbers in UMMB supplemented group could be due to rich source of nitrogen or energy or both. Protozoal count also increased at 3 h post feeding in both the groups. Iqbal et al (1993) reported that irrespective of diets , the protozoal count increased 4 h after feeding, thereafter the concentration decreased gradually.  This increase in protozoal count at 3 h may be attributed to increased availability of substrate for protozoal growth. The mean total protozoal count at 0 h in rumen liquor was not significantly affected in the treatment group as compared to control. However, there was significant increase in total protozoal count in UMMB supplemented group compared to control group. These results are in agreement with Thu and Uden (2001) who observed significantly higher concentration of protozoa in swamp buffaloes supplemented with urea molasses cake compared to control group kept on rice straw. The rise in total protozoal count on UMMB supplementation could be due to availability of nitrogen or energy or both.

The rumen pH at 0 h was higher than at 3 h post feeding in both the groups (Table 2). This post–prandial decline in pH values might be due to increased microbial fermentation and accumulation of organic acids in the rumen. These results are in accordance with the findings of Singh (2002). There was (p<0.05) rise in pH in UMMB supplemented group compared to control group which could be due to higher levels of ammonia nitrogen. Similar findings were reported by Thu and Uden (2001) who observed significantly higher pH in buffaloes supplemented with urea-molasses cake than control group fed mixed grass ad-lib. The mean TVFA’s concentrations increased significantly in treatment group as compared to control. Higher values of TVFA’s in the rumen liquor could be attributed to the stimulatory effect of feed additive on viable and total bacterial population, which in turn enhanced the fermentation in rumen and resulted in increased production of total volatile fatty acids.

Singh et al (1995) advocated that supplementation of urea molasses mineral lick increased the total volatile fatty acids in the rumen liquor by two folds as compared to straw alone diet in cross bred cattle. The mean molar percentage of acetic acid and butyric acid at 0 h and 3 h post prandial was significantly lower in group 2 as compared to group 1. This decrease is perhaps due to increase in molar percentage of propionate by supplementation of UMMB. There was no significant difference in the molar percentage of isobutyric and isovaleric acid between the two groups.

The mean concentration of total nitrogen and ammonia nitrogen at 0 and 3 h was significantly higher in treatment group as compared to control group. De and Singh (2003) have

also found higher concentration of ammonia nitrogen in crossbred cattle supplemented with UMMB. The mean concentration of total free amino acids at 0 h and 3 h was significantly higher in the treatment group as compared to control.


From the results of present investigation it can be concluded that oral supplementation of Urea molasses mineral block significantly enhanced microbial population and also improved the concentration of rumen metabolites.


UMMB, TVFA, ad-lib,


1. Barnett, A.J.G., and Reid, R.L. 1957. Studies on the production of volatile fatty acids from grass and rumen liquor in an artificial rumen. J Agric Sci Camb. 48: 315-18.
2. Bernard, G.C., and Charles, V.B. 1968. Rapid method for the gas-chromatographic determination of volatile fatty acids in the rumen. J Agric Food Chemistry. 16: 105-07.
3. Conway, H.J. Microdiffusion Analysis and Volumetric Error. 1957. Crossby Lockwood and Sons Ltd., London.
4. De, D., and Singh, G.P. 2003. Effect of ionophore enriched cold processed mineral block supplemented with urea molasses on rumen fermentation and microbial growth in crossbred cattle. Asian-Aust J Anim Sci. 16: 852-62.
5. Gall, L.S., Burroughs, W., Gerlaugh, P., and Edgington, B.H. 1949. Special methods for rumen bacterial studies in the field. J Anim Sci. 8: 433-40.
6. Hobson, P.N. Rumen Bacteria. Methods of Microbiology. 1969; (Eds) Norris JR and Ribbons DW. 38. Acad Press, London.
7. Iqbal, S., Singh, R.V., and Setia, M.S. 1993. Influence of diets on the population of rumen bacteria and protozoa in buffalo calves (Bubalus bubalis). Buff  J. 1: 87-91.
8. Lee, Y.P., and Takahashi, T. 1966. An improved colorimetric determination of amino acids with the use of ninhydrin. Anal Biochem. 14: 71-77.
9. McKenzie, H. A., and Wallace, H. S. 1954. The kjeldahl determination on nitrogen. Aust J Chem. 7: 55.
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11. NRC. Nutrient Requirement of Dairy Cattle. 2001.  17th Revised edn. The National Academy Press.
12. Singh, G. P., Gupta, B.N., and Mohini, M. 1995. Effect of supplementation of urea molasse mineral lick to straw diet on dry matter intake, volatile fatty acids and methane production. Indian J Dairy Sci. 48: 290-94.
13. Singh, G. 2002. Effect of HB Strong on rumen profile in experimentally induced rumen dysfunction in buffaloes.  M.V.Sc Thesis, PAU, Ludhiana, Punjab.
14. Snedecor GW, Cochran WG. Statistical Methods. 1994. Oxford and IBH Publishing Calcutta.
15. Srinivas, B., and Gupta, B.N. 1997. Rumen fermentation, bacterial and total volatile fatty acid (TVFA) production rates in cattle fed on urea-molasses-mineral block licks. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 65: 275-86.
16. Thu, N.V., and Uden, P. 2001. Effect of urea molasses cake supplementation of swamp buffaloes fed rice straw or grasses on rumen environment, feed degradation and intake. Asian Aust J Anim Sci. 14: 631-39.

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