Dietary electrolyte balance

Improves management of the electrolyte balance

  bicarz to feed cows Click to enlarge
Animals have natural mechanisms for regulating the body's physico-chemical parameters, and pH in particular. The pH is notably controlled by the secretion of bicarbonate, which has a strong buffering capacity. If pH is not properly regulated, the feed will not be correctly metabolized and the animal will be at increased risk of disease. This is what can happen with the energy-rich food rations that are designed to stimulate high production capacity in certain animals.

In ruminants, ruminal bacteria metabolize ingested feed into gastric acids. When fed energy-rich rations, the animal is no longer able to compensate for the acidification of the rumen and develops acidosis, which affects levels of production as well as the animal's health. In pigs and poultry, the same phenomenon is observed in the intestine, resulting in a drop in pH and, likewise, an impact on zootechnical performance and the health of the animal.


Mineral analysis of the ration (sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur) allows the dietary cation-anion balance (DCAB) to be determined. The DCAB is a very useful tool for evaluating the acid-base equilibrium of the ration.

For pigs, calculation of the electrolyte balance (EB) is sufficient. Unlike the DCAB, sulfur is not included in the calculation of the electrolytic balance.

Some rations, whose DCAB or EB are too low, can be corrected by adding Bicar®Z, which has a DCAB of +118 mEq/kg.
As a reminder, the DCAB and EB of salt = 0

What is the ideal DCAB for dairy cows?

Stage of developmentIdeal DCAB
Start of drying-offbetween 150 and 200 mEq/kg DM
Preparation for calvingaround 50
Freshly calved cowbetween 200 and 400 mEq/kg DM
Start of lactationbetween 200 and 400 mEq/kg DM
Mid-lactationbetween 200 and 400 mEq/kg DM
End of lactationbetween 200 and 400 mEq/kg DM
In the event of heat stressbetween 300 and 500 mEq/kg DM

What is the ideal DCAB for a young bull?

Stage of developmentIdeal DCAB
Young bull at the start of fattening between 200 and 250 mEq/kg DM
Young bull in the finishing phasebetween 220 and 280 mEq/kg DM
Young bull in a situation of heat stressbetween 250 and 300 mEq/kg DM

What is the ideal EB for swine?


Stage of development
Ideal EB
Gestating sow between 240 and 270 mEq/kg DM
Sow in preparation for farrowingbetween 160 and 190 mEq/kg DM
Nursing sowbetween 180 and 220 mEq/kg DM
Post-weaning pigletsbetween 250 and 300 mEq/kg DM
Fattening pigsbetween 200 and 250 mEq/kg DM
Growing giltsbetween 200 and 250 mEq/kg DM

What is the ideal EB for poultry?


Species and Stage of developmentIdeal EB
Chickens aged 1 to 21 daysbetween 240 and 300 mEq/kg DM
Chickens aged 21 to 42 daysbetween 240 and 260 mEq/kg DM
Laying hensbetween 240 and 280 mEq/kg DM
Laying hens in a situation of heat stressbetween 280 and 320 mEq/kg DM
Turkeysbetween 250 and 280 mEq/kg DM