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Diet quality estimated with faecal near infrared reflectance spectroscopy and responses to N supplementation by cattle grazing buffel grass pastures

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Dixon, R. M. and Coates, D. B. (2010) Diet quality estimated with faecal near infrared reflectance spectroscopy and responses to N supplementation by cattle grazing buffel grass pastures. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 158 (3-4). pp. 115-125. ISSN 03778401 (ISSN)

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2010.04.002


In the seasonally dry tropics the productivity of grazing cattle is often constrained by nutrition, particularly during the dry season. An experiment during 2 annual cycles estimated the diet selected by grazing Bos indicus heifers, and their growth and growth responses to a non-protein N supplement. Two drafts (groups) of 2 herds (10 heifers per herd) grazed a pasture consisting of buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) with some legume and edible browse, and herds were offered loose mineral mix (LMM) supplements either without (control) or with urea. Near infrared reflectance spectroscopy measurement of faeces (F.NIRS) was used to estimate each 2 weeks the non-grass and crude protein (CP) concentrations, and DM digestibility (DMD) of the diet selected. Rainfall and diet quality generally followed the seasonal pattern expected for the region and for the seasonally dry tropics. Non-grass (i.e. dicotyledonous species) content averaged 0.13 (S.D. 0.053) of the diet and did not appear to be related to season, but during the first dry season and wet season the urea supplemented heifers selected diets lower (P<0.01 and P<0.05, respectively) in non-grass than the control heifers. Diet quality was generally low during the dry seasons, increased sharply after the seasonal break, and later declined gradually through the wet seasons and wet-dry transition seasons. During the dry seasons average diet CP ranged from 33 to 49 g/kg and diet DMD from 0.480 to 0.507. During the 2 wet seasons CP averaged 94 and 100 g/kg, and the DMD 0.591 and 0.601. The control treatment heifers lost 30 and 32 kg LW during the late dry seasons, and gained 143 and 136 kg during the wet, wet-dry transition and early dry seasons of Drafts 1 and 2, respectively. F.NIRS predicted the daily weight gain (DWG) of the heifers with accuracy useful for management purposes except during the early wet season of Draft 2 when intermittent rains increased diet quality but were insufficient for substantial pasture growth. The urea supplement reduced (P<0.01) heifer LW loss during the dry seasons, but much of this benefit subsequently disappeared due to compensatory growth; net benefit of the urea supplement over the annual cycle was 24 and 14 kg in the 2 drafts. This study demonstrated the capacity of F.NIRS to estimate the diet selected, liveweight change and liveweight responses to a N supplement in grazing cattle. Crown Copyright © 2010.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:Diet CP Diet DM digestibility Diet selection Bos Bos indicus Cenchrus Cenchrus ciliaris
Subjects:Technology > Technology (General) > Spectroscopy > NIR (Near Infrared)
Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Live Archive:17 Jan 2023 04:11
Last Modified:17 Jan 2023 04:11

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