Evaluation of Brassica carinata meal on ruminant metabolism and apparent total tract digestibility of nutrients in beef steers1,2.
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Brassica carinata is a new oilseed crop with the potential of producing high-quality jet biofuel. A high-protein meal (~40% crude protein) is obtained as a byproduct of hexane-solvent oil extraction; however, limited research is available on the use of this meal as a protein supplement for beef cattle. A duplicated 4 4 Latin square design was used to determine the effects of supplementation with B. carinata meal on ruminal fermentation, digestibility, and blood metabolites in beef cattle consuming bahiagrass hay (Paspalum notatum Flgg), compared with frequently used protein supplements. Eight Angus crossbred steers (473 119 kg initial BW) were randomly allocated to 8 pens, over 4 periods of 28-d each. Within period, steers were assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: 1) 1.62 kg/d cottonseed meal (CSM); 2) 2.15 kg/d dry distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS); 3) 1.39 kg/d B. carinata meal pellets (BCM); or 4) 1.17 kg/d soybean meal (SBM), supplemented daily, on an isonitrogenous basis. Steers had ad libitum access to bahiagrass hay and water. Intake was measured using the GrowSafe system. Following a 14-d adaptation, feed and fecal samples were collected to determine apparent total tract nutrient digestibility using indigestible NDF as an internal marker. Blood and ruminal fluid samples were collected before providing the protein supplements and then every 3 h, during a 24-h period, to analyze urea nitrogen (PUN) and glucose in plasma, as well as ruminal pH, ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), and VFA concentrations. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS with repeated measures. Model included the fixed effects of treatment, time, treatment time, square, and period, and the random effects of steer(square) and steer(treatment). No effect of treatment (P > 0.05) was observed for pH, NH3-N, or glucose concentration. An effect of treatment (P < 0.01) was observed for PUN, with steers receiving SBM having greater concentrations. A treatment time interaction was observed (P < 0.05) for total VFA concentration, acetate to propionate ratio, and molar proportions of acetate, propionate, butyrate, and valerate. Steers consuming SBM had greater molar proportions of branched-chain VFA (P < 0.01) compared with CSM and DDGS. There was no effect of treatment (P > 0.05) on intake or apparent total tract digestibility of nutrients. Brassica carinata performed similarly to commonly used protein supplements indicating its viability as a protein supplement for beef cattle.