In anticipation of an increase in the world population in the 21st century, research and techniques must be developed to raise the level of production of food in an ecologically sustainable way. In animal production, ruminant animals are of great importance as livestock, because they are able to utilize plant fibre efficiently as their main energy source and they do not compete for food with human beings. Improving the digestibility of plant fibre in the rumen is a major priority for the application of modern genetic manipulation techniques since plant fibres are the most abundant organic products of photosynthesis.Furthermore, it has been pointed out that it is possible to increase the energetic efficiency of feed utilization by reducing methane production during fermentation, which would also have a positive effect on the environment. A further aim is to enhance microbial protein synthesis in the rumen from non-protein and protein nitrogen as well as vitamin production and utilization of minerals by rumen microorganisms. This book gives an overview of current knowledge in this area, covering major topics such as the metabolism and utilization of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals as well as the energy metabolism. Scientists in the field will welcome it as an encouraging step towards the better understanding of rumen function, ruminant nutrition and physiology.
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