In order to determine how various treatments of wood affect the possible utilization of the material for aminal feed a simple inexpensive method of assay is required. In vitro digestibilities in which rumen fluid from a fistulated cow is used as an inoculum in a test tube is considered to be the best method for this determination. The method used by Iotech for many of their analyses -- in vitro cellulose digestibilities (IVCD) -- involves determination of cellulose in th wood samples before and after rumen fluid digestion and the percent loss of cellulose is considered to be cellulose digestibility. This method however had certain shortcomings. It did not take into account any loss or change of cellulose during the cook and explosion and did not account for the presence of digestible hemicelluloses and sugars in the exploded wood. A sample with high IVCD may have lost a great deal of hemicelluloses whereas one with a lower IVCD may have retained enough hemicelluloses to give a similar true digestibility. Dry matter digestibilities (DMD), which we are now doing, is a measure of the percent of material which is solubilized by the rumen microorganisms. This takes into account the cellulose, hemicelluloses and any sugars which may have been produced during the cook and are still present in the cooked wood. Thus it can be used as an additional analyses to the IVCD to obtain a measure of possible digestibility of the cooked wood by the animal.
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