The influence of extended supplementation of quebracho extract to beef steers consuming a hay diet on digestion, ruminal, and blood parameters.
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The addition of natural plant secondary compounds to ruminant feed has been extensively studied because of their ability to modify digestive and metabolic functions, resulting in a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, among other benefits. Condensed tannin (CT) supplementation may alter ruminal fermentation and mitigate methane (CH4) emissions. This study's objective was to determine the effect of quebracho CT extract [QT; Schinopsis quebracho-colorado (Schltdl.) F.A. Barkley & T. Meyer] within a roughage-based diet on ruminal digestibility and kinetic parameters by using the in situ and in vitro gas production techniques, in addition to blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and ruminal (volatile fatty acid [VFA], NH3-N, and protozoa count) parameters. Twenty rumen-cannulated steers were randomly assigned to four dietary treatments: QT at 0%, 1%, 2%, and 3% of dry matter (DM; QT0: 0% CT, QT1: 0.70% CT, QT2: 1.41% CT, and QT3: 2.13% CT). The in situ DM digestibility increased linearly (P = 0.048) as QT inclusion increased, whereas in situ neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD) was not altered among treatments (P = 0.980). Neither total VFA concentration nor acetate-to-propionate ratio differed among dietary treatments (P = 0.470 and P = 0.873, respectively). However, QT3 had lower isovalerate and isobutyrate concentrations compared with QT0 (P ≤ 0.025). Ruminal NH3 and BUN tended to decline (P ≤ 0.075) in a linear fashion as QT inclusion increased, suggesting decreased deamination of feed protein. Ruminal protozoa count was reduced in quadratic fashion (P = 0.005) as QT inclusion increased, where QT1 and QT2 were lower compared with QT0 and QT3. Urinary N excretion tended to reduce in a linear fashion (P = 0.080) as QT increased. There was a treatment (TRT) × Day interaction for in vitro total gas production and fractional rate of gas production (P = 0.013 and P = 0.007, respectively), and in vitro NDFD tended to be greater for QT treatments compared with no QT inclusion (P = 0.077). There was a TRT × Day interaction (P = 0.001) on CH4 production, with QT3 having less CH4 production relative to QT0 on day 0 and QT2 on days 7 and 28. Feeding QT up to 3% of the dietary DM in a roughage-based diet did not sacrifice the overall DM digestibility and ruminal parameters over time. Still, it is unclear why QT2 did not follow the same pattern as in vitro gas parameters. Detailed evaluations of amino acid degradation might be required to fully define CT influences on ruminal fermentation parameters and CH4 production.