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Asian-Australas J Anim Sci > Volume 30(6); 2017 > Article
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2017;30(6): 797-803. doi: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.16.0629
Intake, digestibility, and rumen and metabolic characteristics of cattle fed low-quality tropical forage and supplemented with nitrogen and different levels of starch
Marcia de Oliveira Franco1,* , Edenio Detmann1, Sebastião de Campos Valadares Filho1, Erick Darlisson Batista1, Luana Marta de Almeida Rufino1, Marcília Medrado Barbosa1, Alexandre Ribeiro Lopes1
1Department of Animal Science, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
* Corresponding Author: Marcia de Oliveira Franco ,Tel: +55-31-3899-2252, Fax: +55-31-3899-2275, Email: marciazoo1@yahoo.com.br
Received: August 15, 2016;  Revised: September 24, 2016.  Accepted: October 24, 2016.  Published online October 28, 2016.

Effects of nitrogen supplementation associated with different levels of starch on voluntary intake, digestibility, and rumen and metabolic characteristics of cattle fed low-quality tropical forage (Brachiaria decumbens hay, 7.4% crude protein, CP) were evaluated using ruminal and abomasal cannulated steers.
Five European×Zebu young bulls (186 kg body weight, BW) were distributed according to a 5×5 Latin square. The following treatments were evaluated: control, supplementation with 300 g CP/d (0:1), supplementation with 300 g starch/d and 300 g CP/d (1:1), supplementation with 600 g starch/d and 300 g CP/d (2:1), and supplementation with 900 g starch/d and 300 g CP/d (3:1). A mixture of nitrogenous compounds provided 1/3 from true protein (casein) and 2/3 from non-protein nitrogen (mixture of urea and ammonium sulphate, 9:1) was used as the nitrogen supplement. In order to supply energy a unique source of corn starch was used.
Supplements increased (p<0.05) dry matter intake, but did not affect (p>0.05) forage intake. There was a cubic effect (p<0.05) of starch on voluntary intake. This was attributed to the highest forage intake (g/kg BW) when using the 2:1 starch:CP ratio. Supplements increased (p<0.05) organic matter (OM) digestibility, but did not affect (p>0.05) neutral detergent fibre corrected for ash and protein (NDFap) digestibility. There was a positive linear effect (p<0.05) of the amount of starch supplemented on OM digestibility. Total NDFap digestibility was not affected (p>0.05) by the amount of supplemental starch. Ruminal ammonia nitrogen concentrations were higher (p<0.05) in supplemented animals, however, a negative linear effect (p<0.05) of amount of starch was observed. Supplements increased (p<0.05) the nitrogen balance (NB) and efficiency of nitrogen utilization. These effects were attributed to increased body anabolism, supported by higher (p<0.05) serum concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1. Increasing the amount of starch tended (p<0.06) to linearly increase the NB. In spite of this, there was a highest NB value for the 2:1 starch:CP ratio amongst the treatments with supplementation.
Nitrogen supplementation in cattle fed low-quality tropical forage increases nitrogen retention in the animal’s body. An additional supply of starch increases nitrogen retention by increasing energy availability for both rumen and animal metabolism.
Keywords: Brachiaria decumbens; Digestibility; Fibre; Nitrogen Balance; Zebu
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