Changes in ruminal fermentation and protein degradation in growing Holstein heifers from 80 to 250 kg fed high-concentrate diets with different forage-to-concentrate ratios

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Abstract

Six Holstein heifers (initial BW = 65.2 ± 1.8 kg) fitted with ruminal cannulas were used in a repeated measures trial to assess the effect of age and forage-to-concentrate ratio on ruminal fermentation end products and in situ degradation kinetics of four plant protein supplements (soybean meal, sunflower meal, peas, and lupin seeds). Alfalfa hay also was incubated in situ to estimate NDF degradation. Three experimental periods were conducted at 13, 27, and 41 wk of age. Heifers were fed one of two diets, 12:88 vs. 30:70 forage-to-concentrate ratio (DM basis), offered as total mixed ration on an ad libitum basis. Intakes of DM, OM, CP, NDF, and ADG were not affected (P > 0.105) by diet. The 30:70 diet resulted in faster (P = 0.045) fluid passage rate and decreased (P = 0.015) ammonia N concentration compared with the 12:88 diet, but no differences (P > 0.244) were detected in ruminal pH and total VFA concentration between diets. The rate of degradation and the effective degradability of N in protein supplements was greater with the 30:70 diet for peas (P < 0.008) and lupin seeds (P < 0.02), and in the 12:88 diet for sunflower meal (P ≤ 0.06). Degradation of NDF of alfalfa hay was low with both diets (18.5 and 23.7 % for 12:88 and 30:70, respectively); however, the rate and extent of DM and NDF degradation were greater (P ≤ 0.016) with the 30:70 diet, suggesting a higher cellulolytic activity. Total VFA concentration and the proportion of propionate increased (P ≤ 0.035), and the acetate proportion decreased (P = 0.021) with age. Average pH, ammonia N concentration, and passage rates were not affected (P ≥ 0.168) by age. Degradation rate and effective degradability of N of sunflower meal, peas, lupin seeds, and of DM of alfalfa hay increased (P ≤ 0.08) with age, but degradation kinetics of NDF of alfalfa hay was not affected (P ≥ 0.249). The increase in the rate and extent of N degradation with age would suggest an increase in proteolytic activity, and the changes in the fermentation pattern may reflect an increase in amylolytic activity caused mainly by an increase in the gross intake of nonstructural carbohydrates and by adaptation of ruminal microflora after long exposure to these nutrients. ©2005 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1616-1624
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume83
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005

Keywords

  • Growing Cattle
  • Protein Degradation
  • Ruminal Fermentation

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