1st Page



This article in

  1. Vol. 81 No. 4, p. 1057-1067
    Received: Feb 18, 2002
    Accepted: Dec 13, 2002

    3 Corresponding author(s):


Effect of grain processing and silage on microbial protein synthesis and nutrient digestibility in beef cattle fed barley-based diets12

  1. K. M. Koenig3,
  2. K. A. Beauchemin and
  3. L. M. Rode4
  1. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, Lethbridge, AB, Canada T1J 4B1


Effects of the extent of grain processing and the percentage of silage in barley-based feedlot diets on microbial protein synthesis and nutrient digestibility were evaluated using four steers (initial BW of 442 ± 15 kg) with ruminal and duodenal cannulas. The experiment was a 4 × 4 Latin square with four periods of 21 d each. Dietary treatments were arranged as a 2 × 2 factorial with two levels of barley silage (20 and 5% DM basis) and two degrees of barley grain processing (coarsely and flatly steamrolled to a processing index [PI] of 86 and 61%, respectively). The PI was quantified as the volume weight of the barley grain after processing, expressed as a percentage of the volume weight prior to processing. Digesta flow (Yb) and microbial (15N) markers were continuously infused into the rumen for a period of 13 d. Ruminal, duodenal, and fecal samples were collected at various times over the last 6 d of marker infusion. Diurnal ruminal pH was measured for 48 h. Intake of DM averaged 1.8% of BW, and was not different among the dietary treatments (P > 0.10). Ruminal starch digestibility was higher (P < 0.05) for the more extensively processed grain and tended (P < 0.10) to be highest when the more extensively processed grain was combined with 5% barley silage. In contrast, ruminal fiber digestibility for the 5% silage diets was reduced (P < 0.05) when the grain was more extensively processed. There was, however, no effect of grain processing on ruminal OM digestibility (P > 0.10), and hence, no inhibitory effect on microbial N flow to the intestine (P > 0.10). There was also no effect of the level of silage on microbial N flow (P > 0.10), but there was a tendency for improved efficiency of microbial protein synthesis for the 20% silage diets (P = 0.072). Ruminal escape of nonmicrobial N (P = 0.003) was greater, and thus, protein flow to the intestine was greater for the 5% silage diets. Diurnal ruminal pH was lower (P < 0.05) for 11 of the 24 hourly time points in steers fed the 5% silage diets than those fed the 20% silage diets. In conclusion, barley grain rolled to a PI of 86 to 61% and combined with 20 and 5% barley silage had little effect on microbial protein supply. Microbial protein supply was not inhibited when the barley grain was extensively processed (PI of 61%) and the silage was limited to only 5% of the diet DM, but feed intake of steers in this study was lower than would be expected in the feedlot.

Copyright © 2003. Copyright 2003 Journal of Animal Science