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Effects of including saponins (Micro-aid®) on intake, rumen fermentation, and digestibility in steers fed low-quality prairie hay

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Sixteen ruminally-cannulated crossbred steers (529 ± 45 kg initial body weight, BW) were used to evaluate in situ dry matter (DM), neutral detergent fiber (aNDF), and N degradation characteristics of low quality prairie hay, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and rumen fermentation parameters in steers provided a protein supplement with or without Micro-Aid® (MA; plant derived saponin). Steers were allowed ad libitum access to chopped prairie hay (49 g crude protein (CP)/kg DM and 738 g aNDF/kg DM) and randomly assigned to one of four treatments : 1) no supplement (C), 2) cottonseed meal and wheat middlings: 920 g DM/d (PC; positive control), 3) MA added to PC to supply 1 g MA/d (MA1), and 4) MA added to PC to supply 2 g MA/d (MA2). Steers were individually supplemented 920 g DM once daily at 08:00 along with a vitamin and mineral mix to ensure requirements were met. Orthogonal contrasts were used to determine the effects of protein supplementation, addition of MA and level of MA inclusion. During in situ phase, forage samples were incubated for a 96 h period. Protein supplementation increased DM intake (DMI), particulate passage rate (Kp), and rumen digestibility of DM and NDF (P<0.001), but there was no effect on rumen nitrogen degradability. The inclusion of MA did not impact DMI in either phase. Compared to PC, MA decreased Kp (27.8 and 22.7 g DM/kg/h, respectively; P=0.02), resulting in an increase in rumen aNDF and DM digestibility (P<0.001). However, there was no influence of MA on apparent total tract digestibility in the metabolism phase. Rumen protozoa concentrations were suppressed (P=0.01) with MA inclusion while lactate concentrations and microbial crude protein (MCP) flow to the small intestine were increased (P=0.05). There was no impact on BUN, rumen ammonia, pH, volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations or nitrogen balance for MA compared to PC diets. Supplementation improved nitrogen balance, MCP synthesis and increased total concentrations of VFA and independent acetate and propionate concentrations. In conclusion, including MA in protein supplements increased rumen DM and NDF digestibility of forage, reduced protozoa concentrations and increased daily outflow of MCP. This is indicative of increased rumen fermentation rate and may ultimately impact animal performance via increased energy and amino acid supply to the small intestine. However, more research is needed to validate this potential impact on animal performance.
C. P. McMurphy , A. J. Sexten , G. L. Mourer , E. D. Sharman , S. J. Trojan , M. J. Rincker , W. K. Coblentz , D. L. Lalman
USDA Scientist Submission
Animal feed science and technology 2014 Apr. v.190
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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