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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Nutrition

Effects of dietary sulfur concentration and forage-to-concentrate ratio on ruminal fermentation, sulfur metabolism, and short-chain fatty acid absorption in beef heifers1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 92 No. 2, p. 712-723
    Received: Oct 14, 2013
    Accepted: Nov 19, 2013
    Published: November 24, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. S. Amat*,
  2. J. J. McKinnon,
  3. G. B. Penner and
  4. S. Hendrick 2
  1. Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada
    Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8, Canada


This study evaluated the effects of dietary S concentration and forage-to-concentrate ratio (F:C) on ruminal fermentation, S metabolism, and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) absorption in beef heifers. Sixteen ruminally cannulated heifers (initial BW 628 ± 48 kg) were used in a randomized complete block design with a 2 × 2 factorial treatment arrangement. The main factors included F:C (4% forage vs. 51% forage, DM basis) and the S concentration, which was modified using differing sources of wheat dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) to achieve low- and high-S diets (LS = 0.30% vs. HS = 0.67% S on a DM basis). Elemental S was also added to increase the S content for the HS diets. Serum sulfate concentration from blood, sulfide (S2–), and SCFA concentrations from ruminal fluid, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) concentration from the ruminal gas cap, and urinary sulfate concentration were determined. Continuous rumen pH and SCFA (acetate, butyrate, and propionate) absorption were measured. There were no interactions between S concentration and F:C. The F:C did not affect DMI (P = 0.26) or ruminal S metabolite concentrations (P ≥ 0.19), but ruminal pH was lower (P < 0.01) and SCFA absorption was greater (P < 0.01) for low F:C diets. Heifers fed HS diets had less DMI (P < 0.01) but greater ruminal pH (P < 0.01), greater concentrations of ruminal H2S (P < 0.01) and serum sulfate (P < 0.01), and greater urinary sulfate concentration (P < 0.01) and output (P < 0.01) relative to heifers fed LS diets. Ruminal H2S was positively correlated with serum sulfate (r = 0.89; P < 0.01). Ruminal acetate concentration was not affected (P = 0.26) by dietary S concentration. Heifers fed the HS diet had lower (P = 0.01) ruminal propionate concentration and tended to have lower (P = 0.06) butyrate concentration than heifers fed the LS diet. Ruminal acetate was greater (P = 0.01) and butyrate was less (P < 0.01) with the high F:C diet than the low F:C diet. Both HS (P = 0.06) and low F:C (P = 0.07) diets tended to reduce urine output. Feeding HS diets reduced SCFA absorption (P < 0.05). In summary, S metabolism in beef heifers was not influenced by the F:C, but HS reduced DMI, inhibited SCFA absorption, and increased urinary S excretion.

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