Influence of different levels of concentrate and ruminally undegraded protein on digestive variables in beef heifers.
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This experiment evaluated the effect of 2 levels of diet concentrate (20 and 40% of DM) and 2 levels of ruminally undegraded protein (RUP: 25 and 40% of CP) on nutrient intake, total and partial apparent nutrient digestibility, microbial protein synthesis, and ruminal and physiological variables. Eight Nellore heifers (233 +/- 14 kg of BW) fitted with ruminal, abomasal, and ileal cannulas were used. The animals were held in individual sheltered pens of approximately 15 m(2) and fed twice daily at 0800 and 1600 h for ad libitum intake. Heifers were allocated in two 4 x 4 Latin square designs, containing 8 heifers, 4 experimental periods, and 4 treatments in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement. All statistical analyses were performed using PROC MIXED of SAS. Titanium dioxide (TiO(2)) and chromic oxide (Cr(2)O(3)) were used to estimate digesta fluxes and fecal excretion. Purine derivative (PD) excretion and abomasal purine bases were used to estimate the microbial N (MN) synthesis. No significant interaction (P > 0.10) between dietary levels of RUP and concentrate was observed. There was no effect of treatment (P = 0.24) on DMI. Both markers led to the same estimates of fecal, abomasal, and ileal DM fluxes, and digestibilities of DM and individual nutrients. Ruminal pH was affected by sampling time (P < 0.001), but no interaction between treatment and sampling time was observed (P = 0.71). There was an interaction between treatment and sampling time (P < 0.001) for ruminal NH(3)-N concentration. A linear decrease (P = 0.04) over sampling time was observed for the higher level of RUP, whereas a quadratic effect (P < 0.001) of sampling time was observed for the lower level of RUP. The higher level of dietary concentrate led to greater MN yield regardless of the level of RUP. The MN yield and the efficiency of microbial yield estimated from urinary PD excretion produced greater (P < 0.01) values than those estimated by either TiO(2) or Cr(2)O(3), which did not differ (P = 0.63) from each other. However, all methods yielded values that were within the range reported in the literature. In conclusion, no interactions between dietary levels of RUP and concentrate were observed for ruminal and digestive parameters. Neither RUP nor concentrate level affected DMI. Titanium dioxide showed to be similar to Cr(2)O(3) as an external marker to measure digestibility and nutrient fluxes in cattle.