Effects of excess metabolizable protein on ovarian function and circulating amino acids of beef cows: 2. Excessive supply in varying concentrations from corn gluten meal.
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In the dairy industry, excess dietary CP is consistently correlated with decreased conception rates. However, amount of excess CP effects on reproductive function in beef cattle is largely undefined. The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of excess metabolizable protein (MP) supplementation from a moderately abundant rumen undegradable protein (RUP) source (corn gluten meal: 62% RUP) on ovarian function and circulating amino acid (AA) concentrations in beef cows consuming low quality forage. Non-pregnant, non-lactating beef cows (n=16) were allocated by age, BW and body condition score (BCS) to 1 of 2 isocaloric supplements designed to maintain BW for 60 days. Cows had ad libitum access to corn stalks and were individually offered a corn gluten meal-based supplement daily at 125% (MP125) or 150% (MP150) of National Research Council (NRC) MP requirements. After a 20-day supplement adaptation period, cows were synchronized for ovulation. After 10 days of synchronization, follicular growth was reset with gonadotropin releasing hormone. Daily thereafter, transrectal ultrasonography was performed to diagram ovarian follicular waves, and blood samples were collected for hormone, metabolite and AA analyses. After 7 days of observation of estrus, corpus luteum (CL) size was determined via ultrasound. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedures of SAS. No differences (P0.21) in BW and BCS existed throughout the study; however, plasma urea N at ovulation was greater (P=0.04) in MP150. Preovulatory ovarian follicle size at dominance, duration of dominance, size at spontaneous luteolysis, length of proestrus and wavelength were not different (P0.11) between treatments. However, ovulatory follicles were larger (P=0.04) and average antral follicle count was greater (P=0.01) in MP150 than MP125. Estradiol concentration and ratio of estradiol to ovulatory follicle volume were not different due to treatment (P0.25). While CL volume 7 days post-estrus was greater (P<0.01) in MP150 than MP125, circulating progesterone 7 days post-estrus and ratio of progesterone to CL volume were not different (P0.21). Total AA were not different (P0.76) at study initiation or completion; however, as a percent of total AA, branched-chain AA at ovulation were greater (P=0.02) in MP150. In conclusion, supplementation of CP at 150% of NRC MP requirements from a moderately undegradable protein source may enhance growth of the ovulatory follicle and subsequent CL compared with MP supplementation at 125% of NRC MP requirements.