N-alkanes to estimate voluntary forage intake of cattle using controlled-release capsules
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N-alkanes have been used as internal markers in digestibility trials with ruminants and non-ruminants for more than 20 years. In this study, two trials were conducted under different feeding regimes to (i) evaluate the release rate of n-alkanes of controlled-release capsules in the rumen of rumen-cannulated steers either grazing or restrained in metabolic stalls and (ii) estimate voluntary forage intake of the same steers in metabolic stalls. Six rumen-cannulated Nelore steers were allocated to individual metabolic stalls and were fed diets with varying forage to concentrate ratios (80:20, 60:40, and 40:60; respectively). Corn silage was the only forage source. In the grazing trial, the same steers were evaluated under three feeding managements (Brachiaria brizantha cv. Marandu unsupplemented or supplemented with either 0.3% or 0.6% of live weight of a concentrate). The release rate of the n-alkanes (mg d-1) was measured by multiplying the distance (mm d -1) the capsule plunger travelled after 3, 7, 10, 13, and 17 d of rumen infusion to the n-alkanes concentration of capsule tablets (mg mm -1). There was an effect of day of measurement (P < 0.05) on the release rate of animals restrained in metabolic stalls and grazing. However, no effect (P > 0.05) of feeding management or feeding management x day of measurement interaction was observed. Values averaged 6.9 and 14.8%, lower than proposed by the manufacturer for the C32, when animals were restrained in metabolic stalls and at grazing, respectively. Similarly, the values of C36 were 15.9 and 23.1% lower for those animals in metabolic stalls and grazing, respectively. The average release rate of C 32 into the rumen was 372 and 341 mg d-1 for animals restrained in metabolic stalls and grazing, respectively. There was no difference in the release rate between feeding regimes (P > 0.05). The regression of the pooled data indicated an average release rate of 345 mg d -1. Estimated values of voluntary forage intake using the pair of C33:C32 n-alkanes using the animals restrained in metabolic stalls was not different from those effectively measured (P > 0.05). These findings indicated that n-alkanes capsules can be used to estimate forage intake of stall-fed animals, but concentration of n-alkanes in capsules and the release rate has to be measured before dosing animals to accurately predict intake.
author list (cited authors)
de Oliveira, D. E., de Queiroz Manella, M., Tedeschi, L. O., da Silva, S. C., & Lanna, D.