Energy efficiency of growing ram lambs fed concentrate-based diets with different roughage sources.
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Poor-quality roughages are widely used as fiber sources in concentrate-based diets for ruminants. Because roughage quality is associated with the efficiency of energy use in forage-based diets, the objective of this study was to determine whether differing the roughage source in concentrate-based diets could change the energy requirements of growing lambs. Eighty-four 1/2 Dorper 1/2 Santa Ins ram lambs (18.0 3.3 kg BW) were individually penned and divided into 2 groups according to primary source of dietary roughage: low-quality roughage (LQR; sugarcane bagasse) or medium-quality roughage (MQR; coastcross hay). Diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous (2.6% N) and to meet 20% of physically effective NDF. After a 10-d ad libitum adaptation period, 7 lambs from each group were randomly selected and slaughtered (baseline). Twenty-one lambs in each diet group were fed ad libitum and slaughtered at 25, 35, or 45 kg BW. The remaining 28 lambs (14 from each diet group) were submitted to 1 of 2 levels of feed restriction: 70% or 50% of the ad libitum intake. Retentions of body fat, N, and energy were determined. Additionally, 6 ram lambs (44.3 5.6 kg BW) were kept in metabolic cages and used in a 6 6 Latin square experiment designed to establish the ME content of the 2 diets at the 3 levels of DM intake. There was no effect of intake level on diet ME content, but it was greater in the diet with LQR than in the diet with MQR (3.18 vs. 2.94 Mcal/kg, respectively; P < 0.01). Lambs fed the diet with LQR had greater body fat (g/kg of empty BW) and energy concentrations (kcal/kg of empty BW) because of a larger visceral fat deposition (P < 0.05). Using a low-quality roughage as a primary source of forage in a concentrate-based diet for growing lambs did not change NEm and the efficiency of ME use for maintenance, which averaged 71.6 kcal/kg(0.75) of shrunk BW and 0.63, respectively. On the other hand, the greater nonfibrous carbohydrate content of the diet with LQR resulted in a 17% better efficiency of ME use for gain (P < 0.01), which was associated with a greater partial efficiency of energy retention as fat (P < 0.01). This increased nutritional efficiency, however, should be viewed with caution because it is related to visceral fat deposition, a nonedible tissue.