Eight single-flow continuous culture fermenters were used to study the effects of the type of energy source on ruminal N utilization from high quality pasture. The four dietary treatments included high quality grass and legume pasture alone (50:50; wt/ wt), pasture plus soybean hulls, pasture plus beet pulp, and pasture plus corn. Diets supplemented with additional sources of energy (soybean hulls, beet pulp, and corn) were isocaloric but differed in the type and rate of carbohydrate fermentation. Energy supplements constituted 45% of the total dietary dry matter and were fed twice daily at 12-h intervals in place of pasture, which is characteristic of grain feeding at milking when animals are in a grazing situation. Energy supplementation reduced pH, NH3 N flow, and NH3 N concentration and increased bacterial N flow (as a percentage of N intake). The supplementation of corn and soybean hulls resulted in the highest microbial N flow (as a percentage of N intake). Corn had a tendency to reduce fiber digestion because of excessively low NH3 N concentrations. Beet pulp was similar to corn in that it decreased NH3 N concentrations. Supplementation of soybean hulls resulted in a more synchronized fermentation, greater volatile fatty acid production, and greater fiber digestion. Nitrogen utilization by microbes was maximized by supplementation with soybean hulls or corn twice a day. With diets based on pasture, it may be more important to improve bacterial N flow and bacterial utilization of N than to maximize the efficiency of bacterial protein synthesis because better utilization of N by ruminal microorganisms results in higher bacterial N flow and higher fiber digestion.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
1Published as Paper Number 981164804 of the scientific series of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station on research conducted under Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station project number 16-48. The authors are grateful to the Parker Sanders Fund for partial financial support of the research.
- Carbohydrate supplementation
- Protein utilization