Minimal quantities of ruminally degradable protein from supplements may improve supplement use efficiency of ruminants grazing dormant forages. In Exp. 1, N retention, ruminal NH(3), serum urea N, and NDF digestibility were evaluated for 12 ruminally cannulated cows (Bos spp.) in an incomplete Latin Square design with 3 periods of 42 d each. Cows were fed weeping lovegrass [Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees] hay (4.1% CP, 75% NDF, OM basis) at 1.3 % BW/d and offered 1 of 3 sources of CP [urea, cottonseed (Gossypium spp.) meal (CSM); or 50% blood meal and 50% feather meal combination (BFM)] fed to supply 0, 40, 80, or 160 g/d of CP. Beginning on d 22 of supplementation, ruminal contents and serum samples were collected at -2, 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, and 48 h relative to the morning offering of hay. On Day 24, feces and urine were collected for 72 h. In Exp. 2, 4 ruminally cannulated steers were used in a replicated 4 by 4 Latin Square to evaluate use of supplements differing in quantity and ruminal CP degradability. Steers were fed 6.8 kg/d chopped sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench nothosubsp. drummondii (Steud.) de Wet ex Davidse] hay (3.7% CP, 74% NDF on OM basis) and supplemented with 56 g/d of a salt mineral mix (CON); CON + 28 g/d blood meal + 28 g/d feather meal (BFM); CON + 98 g/d CSM (LCS); or CON + 392 g/d CSM (HCS). Treatments provided 0, 40, 40, or 160 g/d of CP for CON, BFM, LCS, and HCS respectively. In Exp. 1, N use and total tract NDF digestibility were not affected by protein sources or amounts (P ≥ 0.18). Ruminal NH(3) concentrations exhibited a quadratic response over time for UREA (P < 0.05) and was greater with increasing inclusion of urea (P < 0.05); whereas BFM or CSM did not differ (P > 0.05) by amount or across time. In Exp. 2, supplementation had a tendency (P = 0.09) to increase DM disappearance. Supplementation also increased (P < 0.01) serum glucose concentrations; however, no difference (P ≥ 0.28) was found between supplements. Serum urea N and ruminal NH(3) concentrations were increased (P ≤ 0.01) in steers fed HCS. Feeding low quantities of a high-RUP supplement maintained rumen function without negatively affecting DM or NDF digestibility of a low-quality forage diet.
- Beef CattleDiet QualityProtein Source