The degradable protein requirements of beef cattle consuming winter forage hay from the pure grassveld type
Bareki, Mathuto Abigail
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A trial was conducted to determine the total rumen degradable protein intake (RDPI) required to maximise the digestible organic matter intake (DOMI) of beef cows consuming low quality grass hay from the Northern variation of Cymbopogon-Themeda pasture type (pure grassveld). Thirty five pregnant Afrikaner x Simmentaler crossbred cows (±517.08kg, SD 53.06) were randomly allocated to 5 treatments. Treatments provided the following RDP levels/cow/day 0g, 180g, 360g, 540g and 720g. A RDP source, calcium caseinate (90% crude protein (CP) on dry matter basis and 100% rumen degradable) was used and mixed with molasses based concentrate. The cows had ad lib access to low quality grass hay (2.26% CP, 73.94% neutral detergent fibre). The trial period consisted of 14 days adaptation, 21 days intake study and 7 days digestibility study. No statistical significant (P > 0.05) influence of RDP level on the apparent digestibility of dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) was detected. The grass DM intake (DMI), DOMI and metabolisable energy intake (MEI) increased in a linear and quadratic manner (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of supplemental RDP. The single broken-line model predicted DOMI/kg BW0.75 with higher accuracy (R2 = 0.45) than the quadratic regression procedure (R2 = 0.07). According to this model 4.03g daily RDPI/kg BW0.75 or 8.07% RDP of DOM was required to maximise DOMI of pregnant beef cows consuming winter grassveld hay. In a second trial the potential to substitute true protein with urea was investigated. Urea replaced 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the natural supplemental RDP. The same procedure as described in the first trial was followed. The increasing proportion of urea did not significantly (P > 0.05) influence the apparent digestibility of DM, OM and NDF. There was a linear increase in grass DMI (P = 0.0355) at increasing levels of urea, with the highest intake observed when urea was used as a sole source of nitrogen (N). DOMI and MEI increased in both linear and a quadratic manner (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of urea. The molar proportions of acetic, propionic and butyric acid were not affected (P < 0.05) by the substitution of urea, while the molar percentages of iso-butyric and iso-valeric acid were significantly decreased (P < 0.0001) with increasing urea levels. Ammonia N increased linearly (P = 0.0426) while the ruminal pH was not affected (P > 0.05) by increasing the proportion of urea. It seems that urea can be the sole RDP source in supplements for pregnant beef cows consuming the low quality grass hay. In the third trial, the influence of replacing natural protein with urea on the performance of beef cows grazing natural winter grassveld was investigated. Pregnant Afrikaner x Simmentaler crossbred cows were randomly allocated to the two treatments. The number of cows per treatment varied between 18 and 28 each year. The trial was executed over four consecutive winter periods from 2003 to 2006. The treatment licks comprised of: 1) 100% supplemental RDP from urea and 2) 50% supplemental RDP from urea and 50% from cottonseed oilcake. Lick provision was controlled to ensure the total RDPI as recommended in the first trial. Increasing the proportion of supplemental RDP from urea did not have a significant (P = 0.9938) effect on the end live mass of the cows. The urea levels did not significantly influence (P > 0.05) weaning mass, corrected weaning mass and average daily gain of the calves. The lack of significant lick treatment effect on live mass, body condition score and performance of the calves suggests that urea can be used as a sole source of RDP.