Optimizing nitrogen utilization in growing steers fed forage diets supplemented with dried citrus pulp.J Anim Sci 2007; 85(10):2548-55JA
Our objectives were to compare the effects of sources of supplemental N on ruminal fermentation of dried citrus pulp (DCP) and performance of growing steers fed DCP and bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) hay. In Exp. 1, fermentation of DCP alone was compared with that of isonitrogenous mixtures of DCP and solvent soybean meal (SBM), expeller soybean meal (SoyPLUS; SP), or urea (UR). Ground (1 mm) substrates were incubated in buffered rumen fluid for 24 h, and IVDMD and fermentation gas production kinetics and products were measured. Nitrogen supplementation increased (P < 0.10) ruminally fermentable fractions, IVDMD, pH, and concentrations of NH3 and total VFA, but reduced the rate of gas production (P < 0.10) and the lag phase (P < 0.01). Supplementation with UR vs. the soy-based supplements increased ruminally fermentable fractions (P < 0.05) and concentrations of total VFA (P < 0.10) and NH3 (P < 0.01), but these measures were similar (P > 0.10) between SBM and SP. In Exp. 2, 4 steers (254 kg) were fed bahiagrass hay plus DCP, or hay plus DCP supplemented with CP predominantly from UR, SBM, or SP in a 4 x 4 Latin square design, with four 21-d periods, each with 7 d for DMI and fecal output measurement. Nitrogen-supplemented diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous (11.9% CP), and all diets were formulated to be isocaloric (66% TDN). Intake and digestibility of DM, N, and ADF were improved (P < 0.05) by N supplementation. Compared with UR, the soy-based supplements led to greater (P < 0.05) DM and N intakes and apparent N and ADF digestibilities. Plasma glucose and urea concentrations increased (P < 0.10) with N supplementation and were greater (P < 0.01) for the soy-based supplements than for UR. Intake, digestibility, and plasma metabolite concentrations were similar (P > 0.1) for SBM and SP. In Exp. 3, 24 steers (261 kg) were individually fed bahiagrass hay plus DCP (control), or hay plus DCP supplemented with CP predominantly from UR or SBM. Over 56 d, DMI and ADG were greatest (P < 0.05) in steers fed SBM. Nitrogen supplementation increased (P < 0.05) DMI, ADG, and G:F. However, SBM supplementation produced greater (P < 0.05) DMI and ADG and similar (P > 0.05) G:F compared with UR supplementation. We conclude that supplemental N is important to optimize ruminal function and performance of growing steers fed forage diets supplemented with DCP. Diets with supplemental N mainly from SBM improved diet digestibility and animal performance beyond that achieved by UR.