Intake, digestibility, and nitrogen retention by sheep supplemented with warm-season legume haylages or soybean meal.J Anim Sci 2009; 87(9):2899-905JA
The high cost of commercial supplements necessitates evaluation of alternatives for ruminant livestock fed poor quality warm-season grasses. This study determined how supplementing bahiagrass haylage (Paspalum notatum Flügge cv. Tifton 9) with soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] meal or warm-season legume haylages affected the performance of lambs. Forty-two Dorper x Katadhin lambs (27.5 +/- 5 kg) were fed for ad libitum intake of bahiagrass haylage (67.8% NDF, 9.6% CP) alone (control) or supplemented with soybean meal (18.8% NDF, 51.4% CP) or haylages of annual peanut [Arachis hypogaea (L.) cv. Florida MDR98; 39.6% NDF, 18.7% CP], cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. cv. Iron clay; 44.1% NDF, 16.0% CP], perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth. cv. Florigraze; 40.0% NDF, 15.8% CP), or pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp. cv. GA-2; 65.0% NDF, 13.7% CP]. Haylages were harvested at the optimal maturity for maximizing yield and nutritive value, wilted to 45% DM, baled, wrapped in polyethylene plastic, and ensiled for 180 d. Legumes were fed at 50% of the dietary DM, and soybean meal was fed at 8% of the dietary DM to match the average CP concentration (12.8%) of legume haylage-supplemented diets. Lambs were fed each diet for a 14-d adaptation period and a 7-d data collection period. Each diet was fed to 7 lambs in period 1 and 4 lambs in period 2. Pigeonpea haylage supplementation decreased (P < 0.01) DM and OM intake and digestibility vs. controls. Other legume haylages increased (P < 0.05) DM and OM intake vs. controls; however, only soybean meal supplementation increased (P = 0.01) DM digestibility. All supplements decreased (P = 0.05) NDF digestibility. Except for pigeonpea haylage, all supplements increased (P < 0.01) N intake, digestibility, and retention, and the responses were greatest (P = 0.04) with soybean meal supplementation. Microbial N synthesis was reduced (P = 0.02) by pigeonpea haylage supplementation, but unaffected (P = 0.05) by other supplements. Efficiency of microbial protein synthesis was unaffected (P = 0.05) by diet. Ruminal ammonia concentration was increased (P = 0.01) by all supplements, but only soybean meal and annual peanut haylage increased (P < 0.03) plasma urea-N concentrations. Perennial peanut, annual peanut, and cowpea haylages are promising protein supplements for growing lambs.