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Strategic supplementation of growing cattle on tropical pastures improves nutrient use and animal performance, with fewer days required on the finishing phase
journal contributionposted on 07.11.2021, 23:50 by Diogo Fleury Azevedo CostaDiogo Fleury Azevedo Costa, Paulo S Correia, Joao R Reboucas Dorea, Jonas De Souza, Guilhermo F De Souza Congio, Alexandre Vaz Pires, Pedro AM Malafaia, James Drouillard, Carlos TDS Dias, Albino Luchiari-Filho, Flavio AP Santos
Context: Cattle grazing tropical forages usually perform below genetic potential due to limited nutrient intake. Aims: Four experiments were conducted to evaluate supplementation strategies on performance and metabolism of cattle grazing intensively managed marandu palisade grass (Urochloa brizantha). Methods: Experiment 1 evaluated the average daily gain (ADG) of 72 young bulls (222 ± 25 kg bodyweight, BW) grazing palisade grass and supplemented (22% crude protein, CP) at 0.0%, 0.3%, 0.6% and 0.9% BW, and their ADG during the feedlot finishing phase. Experiment 2 evaluated the ADG of 80 bulls (240 ± 18 kg BW) grazing palisade grass and supplemented with energy (11.3% CP) or three protein sources (≈20.5% CP) at 0.6% BW. Experiment 3 investigated intake, rumen parameters and digestibility of nutrients in fistulated steers (410 ± 8.6 kg BW) fed an energy supplement, that is, ground corn, at 0.0%, 0.3%, 0.6% and 0.9% BW, with a parallel in vitro study of fermentation kinetics (Experiment 4). Key results: Increased levels of supplementation resulted in linear increases (P < 0.05) in ADG, stocking rate (SR) and in BW gain per area. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in ADG, SR and BW gain per area among supplemental sources of protein or the energy supplement. Increasing energy levels caused a linear decrease (P < 0.05) in forage intake and grazing time and a linear increase (P < 0.05) in total dry matter and digestible-nutrient intakes, but did not affect (P > 0.05) fibre degradability. Corn supplementation also caused a linear decrease (P < 0.05) in acetate: propionate ratio, in ruminal ammonia-N and in N excretion, and a linear increase (P < 0.05) in rumen propionate concentration, in microbial synthesis and in N retention. The supplementation increased BW at the start of the feedlot phase, resulting in similar hot carcass weights with fewer days on feed and no effects on meat quality. Conclusions: Overall, despite the source utilised, supplementation increased ADG, SR and BW gain per area, with fewer days being required on the finishing period. Implications: Having adequate supplementation strategies in place will help producers increase the efficiency of their systems.