Effects of grain adaptation programs and antimicrobial feed additives on performance and nutrient digestibility of Bos indicus cattle fed whole shelled corn.
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Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of feed additives [monensin (MON); 30 mg/kg of dry matter (DM), and virginiamycin (VM); 25 mg/kg DM] and grain adaptation programs [adding roughage (ROU; sugarcane bagasse) or not (NO-ROU) during the 20-d adaptation period] on performance, carcass characteristics, and nutrient digestibility of Bos indicus cattle fed finishing diets containing 85% whole shelled corn and 15% of a pelleted protein-mineral-vitamin supplement. In Exp.1, 105 Nellore bulls [initial body weight (BW) = 368 25 kg] were used in a complete randomized block design with a 2 2 factorial arrangement of treatments, consisting of two feed additives (MON and VM) associated with two adaptation programs (ROU or NO-ROU during the 20-d adaptation period). Effects of feed additives adaptation programs were not detected (P 0.13). Feed additives did not affect dry matter intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), and feed efficiency (G:F) during the 20-d adaptation period (P 0.35). During the total feeding period (105 d), feeding MON decreased DMI (P 0.03) compared to VM. Adding sugarcane bagasse to finishing diets during the 20-d adaptation period (ROU) increased ADG (P = 0.05) and G:F (P = 0.03), and tended to increase BW (P = 0.09) compared to NO-ROU. In Exp. 2, 10 ruminally cannulated Nellore steers (BW = 268 38 kg) were used in a completely randomized design to evaluate the effects of the two feed additives used in the Exp. 1 (MON and VM; 5 steers/treatment) on DMI, total apparent digestibility of nutrients, and ruminal fermentation characteristics. No differences in DMI, total tract apparent digestibility of nutrients, and ruminal fermentation characteristics were observed between MON and VM (P 0.32). An effect of sampling day (P < 0.001) was observed for ruminal pH, which was greater on day 0 compared to day 7, 14, and 21 of the experimental period (P 0.05). In summary, supplementing monensin and virginiamycin for finishing Nellore bulls fed whole shelled corn diets, resulted in similar growth performance and carcass characteristics. Including sugarcane bagasse to adapt finishing bulls to no-roughage diets containing whole shelled corn is an alternative to increase growth performance.