Effects of different levels of supplementation of a 50:50 mixture of molasses:crude glycerol on performance, Bermuda grass hay intake, and nutrient digestibility of beef cattle.
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Two experiments were performed to evaluate the effects of different levels of supplementation with a 50:50 (as-fed) mixture of molasses:crude glycerol on animal performance, total tract digestibility of nutrients, and ruminal in situ degradability of nutrients in beef heifers and steers consuming Tifton 85 Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.) hay. For Exp. 1, 24 Angus crossbred heifers (380 31 kg BW) were used in a generalized randomized block design. For Exp. 2, 8 ruminally cannulated Angus crossbred steers (323 42 kg BW) were used in a 4 4 duplicated Latin square design. For both experiments, animals were housed in individual pens at the University of Florida Feed Efficiency Facility, had ad libitum access to Tifton 85 Bermuda grass hay, and were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: 1) CTRL, no supplementation; 2) SUP1, 0.45 kg/d (as fed) of 50:50 mixture; 3) SUP3, 1.36 kg/d (as fed) of 50:50 mixture; and 4) SUP5, 2.27 kg/d (as fed) of a 50:50 mixture. Individual feed intake was recorded. Total DMI increased linearly (P = 0.005) as the level of supplementation increased. Hay intake ranged from 1.36 (CTRL) to 1.23% (SUP5) of BW, and was not affected (P 0.10) by liquid supplementation. Final BW was not affected by liquid supplementation ( 0.10). There was a linear increase (P = 0.027) in ADG as the liquid supplementation amounts increased. Liquid supplementation did not affect G:F (P 0.10). Apparent total tract digestibility of DM, OM, NDF, and ADF increased linearly (P < 0.001), while CP total tract digestibility decreased linearly (P = 0.002) as the level of supplementation increased. Ruminal pH was decreased linearly (P = 0.012) as the level of supplementation increased. No effect (P 0.10) of liquid supplementation was detected on lag time for NDF and ADF content of bermudagrass hay; however, rate of degradation (Kd) of NDF tended (P = 0.076) to be affected cubically by liquid supplementation. In addition, liquid supplementation linearly decreased (P < 0.05) ED of OM, CP, NDF, and ADF. In conclusion, supplementing up to 2.27 kg/d of a 50:50 mixture of molasses:crude glycerol may stimulate microbial growth and fermentative activity, thereby increasing nutrient digestibility. Increased fiber digestion, along with energy supplementation, led to increased ADG in heifers consuming Bermuda grass hay.