Ten young rumen-cannulated crossbred steers were randomly divided into two groups: a control group (C; n=4), which was fed a balanced diet for daily weight gain of 900g; and a pronounced energy-deprived group (PED; n=6), receiving 30% less of the required energy for maintenance. After 140 days of these alimentary regimes, rumen fluid and urine samples were collected for biochemical and functional tests, before feeding and at 1, 3, 6, and 9 hours after feeding. The energy-deprivation diet caused a significant reduction in the number of Entodinium, Eodinium, Isotricha, Dasytricha, Eremoplastron, Eudiplodinium, Metadinium, Charonina, Ostracodinium, and Epidinium protozoa. There was no effect of the time of sampling in both groups on the total number of ciliates in rumen fluid. A higher number of protozoan forms in binary division were recorded in the control group, at the 6th and 9th hours after feeding (P<0.019). There was a high positive correlation between the total count of protozoans in rumen fluid and glucose fermentation, ammonia, and urinary allantoin excretion index; and a negative correlation between the total count of protozoa and metilene blue reduction, and a medium correlation between the total count of protozoa and total volatile fatty acids concentration. The determination of the protozoa populations does not imply in the use of complex and hard-to-execute techniques, although it is time consuming and needs practice. This exam particularly helps in clinical expected diagnosis.
bovine; rumen; energy deprivation; ruminal metabolism