Effects of supplemental ruminally degradable protein versus increasing amounts of supplemental ruminally undegradable protein on site and extent of digestion and ruminal characteristics in lambs fed low-quality forage.J Anim Sci 2007; 85(12):3322-30JA
Four ruminally and duodenally cannulated Suffolk wether lambs (34.5 +/- 2 kg initial BW) were used in a 4 x 4 Latin square designed experiment to compare effects of supplemental ruminally degradable protein (RDP) vs. increasing amounts of supplemental ruminally undegradable protein (RUP) on ruminal characteristics and site and extent of digestion in lambs. Lambs were fed a basal diet of crested wheatgrass hay (4.2% CP) for ad libitum consumption, plus 1 of 4 protein supplements: isolated soy protein (RDP source) fed to meet estimated RDP requirements assuming a microbial efficiency of 11% of TDN (CON) or corn gluten meal (RUP source) fed at 50, 100, or 150% of the supplemental N provided by CON (C50, C100, and C150, respectively). Neither NDF nor ADF intake was affected (P >/= 0.18) by protein degradability, but they increased or tended to increase (P </= 0.07) with increasing level of RUP. Total OM and N intakes were similar (P >/= 0.26) for CON and C100, but increased (P </= 0.01) as level of RUP increased. True ruminal OM and ruminal digestibilities of NDF and ADF were not affected (P >/= 0.33) by protein degradability. However, true ruminal N digestibility was greater (P = 0.03) for CON compared with C100. Ruminal ammonia concentrations were greater (P = 0.002) for CON compared with C100 lambs, and increased (P = 0.001) with increasing RUP. Microbial N flows were not affected (P >/= 0.12) by protein degradability or increasing RUP. Likewise, neither ruminal urease activity (P >/= 0.11) nor microbial efficiency (P >/= 0.50) were affected by protein degradability or level of RUP. Total tract OM, NDF, and ADF digestibility was greater (P </= 0.05) for C100 compared with CON. Likewise, total tract N digestibility was greater (P = 0.03) for C100 than for CON, and increased linearly (P = 0.001) with increasing RUP. Lambs fed C100 consumed approximately 69% less supplemental RDP (31% less total RDP) than CON, but were able to maintain forage intake and digestion. This lack of response in forage intake would suggest that lambs supplemented with RUP were recycling sufficient N to compensate for an apparent RDP deficiency. Although ruminal degradability of protein has little effect on forage intake or ruminal digestion of nutrients, there is potential to enhance total tract digestion of nutrients by decreasing the ruminal degradability of supplemental protein.