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Journal of Animal Science - Animal Nutrition

Influence of supplementation with corn dried distillers grains plus solubles to growing calves fed medium-quality hay on growth performance and feeding behavior1

 

This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 92 No. 2, p. 705-711
     
    Received: Aug 23, 2013
    Accepted: Nov 18, 2013
    Published: November 24, 2014


    2 Corresponding author(s): kendall.swanson@ndsu.edu
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doi:10.2527/jas.2013-7067
  1. A. Islas*,
  2. T. C. Gilbery*,
  3. R. S. Goulart,
  4. C. R. Dahlen*,
  5. M. L. Bauer* and
  6. K. C. Swanson 2
  1. Department of Animal Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo 58102
    Merck Animal Health, São Paulo, 04794-000 Brazil

Abstract

To determine the effect of increasing supplementation of corn dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) on growth performance and feeding behavior, 70 steer calves (287 ± 10 kg of BW) were blocked by BW to 3 pens equipped with Insentec feeders. For 84 d, calves were fed medium-quality grass/legume hay offered for ad libitum intake and provided 1 of 3 dietary supplemental treatments (n = 7 or 8 steers per treatment within each pen; n = 23 or 24 per treatment): 1) nothing, 2) DDGS at 0.5% of BW daily (DM basis), and 3) DDGS at 1% of BW daily (DM basis). Hay intake (kg/d and % of BW daily) decreased linearly (P < 0.001) as DDGS supplementation increased. Total DMI (kg/d and % of BW) increased linearly (P < 0.001) with DDGS supplementation. Average daily gain and gain efficiency (G:F) responded quadratically (P ≤ 0.006) as G:F increased to a lesser extent when DDGS supplementation increased from 0.5 to 1% than from 0 to 0.5%. Meals (number per day) and time eating per meal for hay and total diet decreased linearly (P ≤ 0.006) with increasing DDGS supplementation. Time eating per day for hay responded quadratically (P < 0.001) and decreased to a greater extent when increasing from 0 to 0.5% DDGS supplementation than from 0.5 to 1% DDGS. Feed intake per minute (eating rate) for hay and total diet increased linearly (P ≤ 0.05) with increasing DDGS supplementation. On d 84, LM area, back fat thickness, and rump fat thickness increased linearly (P ≤ 0.006) with increasing DDGS supplementation. There were significant day × treatment interactions (P < 0.001) for plasma glucose and urea-N concentrations. Glucose did not change over the feeding period in control steers but increased in both supplemented groups. Urea-N decreased for control steers over the feeding period whereas urea-N increased in supplemented steers. In conclusion, supplementation of DDGS in amounts of 0.5 or 1% of BW daily can be used to reduce hay intake and improve ADG and G:F in growing steers fed medium-quality hay. Additionally, DDGS supplementation alters feeding behavior.



INTRODUCTION

Supplementation of forage-based diets usually improves performance by increasing the intake and digestibility of the forage, by supplying additional energy or protein necessary for the observed improved performance, or both (Fisher, 2002). The use of ethanol byproducts as a supplement for forage-based feeding or grazing systems has increased in recent years and ethanol byproducts, such as dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS), can be an effective supplement for forage-based systems (Griffin et al., 2012). However, less is known about the effects of supplementation on feeding behavior and behavioral factors contributing to differences in animals’ responses to supplements. Because the dry milling process converts the starch in grain to ethanol by fermentation, the other nutrients such as CP, fat, fiber, P, and S become approximately 3 times more concentrated in the ethanol byproducts compared with the original grain (Klopfenstein et al., 2008). This process results in increases in soluble fiber and CP, which may be desirable as an energy and protein supplement for cattle fed or grazing forage. Feed intake over a given time period is dependent on the number of meals eaten in that time, the length of each meal, and the rate of eating during each meal (Bines, 1971) and is thought to be regulated by fill and metabolic feedbacks (Fisher, 2002; Mertens, 1987). We hypothesized that supplementation with DDGS would result in improved growth performance and altered feeding behavior. The objectives of this project were to determine the effect of increasing supplementation of DDGS on feed intake, ADG, G:F, feeding behavior, carcass ultrasound measures, and plasma metabolites in growing cattle fed medium-quality hay.


MATERIALS AND METHODS

Animals, Experimental Design, and Dietary Treatments

All procedures with animals were approved by the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Animal Care and Use Committee. Seventy steer calves (287 ± 10 kg of BW) predominantly of Angus, Simmental, and Shorthorn breeding were blocked by BW to 3 pens (n = 23 or 24 steers/pen) equipped with Insentec feeders (Inesentec, B. V., Marknesse, the Netherlands) at the NDSU Beef Cattle Research Complex. Within each pen, calves were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 dietary treatments (n = 7 or 8 steers per treatment within pen; n = 23 or 24 per treatment): 1) chopped medium-quality grass/legume hay (primarily bromegrass and alfalfa) offered for ad libitum intake, 2) supplementation of DDGS at 0.5% of BW daily (DM basis) and chopped medium-quality grass/legume hay offered for ad libitum intake, and 3) supplementation of DDGS at 1% of BW daily (DM basis) and chopped medium-quality grass/legume hay offered for ad libitum intake. Limestone was mixed with the DDGS (2.9% limestone and 97.1% DDGS; DM basis) to provide enough Ca in the 1% DDGS treatment to achieve a predicted total dietary Ca:P ratio of approximately 1.5:1 (1.1:1 for DDGS/limestone mixture). Supplementation levels of DDGS were selected to provide small to moderate amounts of DDGS that might be used in growing cattle feeding programs. Calves were allowed free access to water and trace-mineralized salt blocks (95.5 to 98.5% NaCl, 0.35% Zn, 0.20% Fe, 0.18% Mn, 0.028 to 0.042% Cu, 0.010% I, and 0.006% Co). Calves were adapted to the facilities and trained to the Insentec feeding system for approximately 4 wk before the start of the experimental period. Calves were fed experimental diets for 84 d.

Body Weight and Feed Intake Measurements

Body weights were measured on 2 consecutive days at the beginning and end of the experiment and every 28 d throughout the experiment. Average daily gain was calculated by linearly regressing BW on day of the experiment (average R2 = 0.54, 0.93, and 0.95 for treatments 1, 2, and 3, respectively).

Radio frequency identification tags were placed in the right ear of each steer before the experiment. Each pen contained 8 Insentec electronic feeding stations as described by Mader et al. (2009), Montanholi et al. (2010), and Wood et al. (2011) allowing for offering specific feed ingredients and monitoring of individual feed intake and feeding behavior characteristics. Supplement was offered in 2 feeders and hay in 6 feeders per pen. Feeding behavior characteristics were defined as described previously by Montanholi et al. (2010) as follows: events (number of bunk visits and meals daily), eating time (minutes; per visit, per meal, and per day), and feed intake (grams; per visit, per meal, and per minute) and these data were summarized as the average of each individual steer over the entire experiment. A visit was defined as each time the Insentec system detected a steer at a bunk. Meal was defined as a distinct eating period, which may include short breaks but which are separated by intervals of no longer than 7 min (Forbes, 1995; Montanholi et al., 2010). Feeding behavior measurements are reported for hay, DDGS, and total intake.

Feed Analysis

Hay and DDGS/limestone samples (approximately 500 g) were collected weekly. Hay samples were dried in a 55оC oven for at least 48 h and ground to pass a 1-mm screen. Hay and DDGS samples were analyzed for DM, ash, N (Kjehldahl method), Ca, and P by standard procedures (AOAC, 1990) and for NDF (assayed with heat stable amylase and sodium sulfite and expressed inclusive of residual ash) and ADF (expressed inclusive of residual ash) concentration sequentially by the methods of Robertson and Van Soest (1981) using a fiber analyzer (Ankom Technology Corp., Fairport, NY). Crude protein was calculated by multiplying N concentration × 6.25. Samples of DDGS/limestone were analyzed for ether extract by standard procedures (AOAC, 1990) and sulfur was analyzed by Midwest Laboratories (Omaha, NE) using inductively coupled plasma emission spectroscopy. Nutrient concentrations for DDGS/limestone and hay are reported in Table 1.


View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 1.

Analyzed composition of corn dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS)/limestone mixture1 and forage

 
Nutrient DDGS/limestone Forage
DM, % 91.4 86.7
% of DM
OM 91.6 91.1
CP 27.8 9.3
Ether extract 11.1
NDF 32.5 70.6
ADF 8.13 46.8
Ca 1.21 0.69
P 1.04 0.27
S 0.94
197.1% DDGS and 2.9% limestone; DM basis.

Real-Time Ultrasound

Ultrasonic measurements of LM area (LMA), back fat depth (between the 12th and 13th rib), rump fat depth, and intramuscular fat (IMF) content on d 1 and d 84 were obtained using an Aloka SSD-500 (Corometrics Medical Systems, Wallingford, CT). Change in LMA, back fat depth, rump fat depth, and IMF were calculated by subtracting d 0 values from d 84 values.

Blood Collection and Plasma Analysis

Blood samples were collected by jugular venipuncture into Vacutainer tubes containing sodium heparin (Becton Dickinson, Rutherford, NJ) every 28 d throughout the experiment before feeding on the same day as BW measurements. Plasma was isolated by centrifugation at 3,000 × g at 4°C for 20 min and stored at –20°C until analysis. Plasma was analyzed for glucose using the hexokinase/glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase method (Farrance, 1987) using a kit from Thermo Scientific. Plasma urea-N was determined using the urease/Berthelot procedure (Chaney and Marbach, 1962; Fawcett and Scott, 1960). Plasma was analyzed for NEFA using the acyl-CoA synthetase-acyl-CoA oxidase method using a kit from Wako Pure Chemical Industries (Dallas, TX).

Statistical Analysis

Data were analyzed as a randomized block (pen) design using the Mixed procedure of SAS (SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC). Linear and quadratic effects of DDGS supplementation were tested using orthogonal contrast statements. For DDGS intake, all data were included in the analysis including zero intakes from steers on the 0% DDGS treatment. For plasma metabolites, data were analyzed as a completely randomized block (pen) design with repeated measures and tested for the effects of block (pen), treatment, day, and day × treatment using the Mixed procedure of SAS. Appropriate (minimize information criterion) covariance structures were used (Wang and Goonewardene, 2004). Data were considered significant when P ≤ 0.05.


RESULTS

Initial BW was not different among treatments (Table 2). Final BW increased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing supplementation of DDGS. Average daily gain responded quadratically (P = 0.02) as ADG increased to a lesser extent when increasing DDGS supplementation from 0.5 to 1% than form 0 to 0.5%. Hay intake (kg/d and % of BW daily) decreased linearly (P < 0.001) as DDGS supplementation increased. Total DMI (kg/d and % of BW daily) increased linearly (P < 0.001) with DDGS supplementation. Gain efficiency (G:F) responded quadratically (P = 0.006) as G:F increased to a lesser extent when increasing DDGS supplementation from 0.5 to 1% than from 0 to 0.5%.


View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 2.

Influence of corn dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) supplementation on feed intake and growth performance of growing steers fed medium-quality hay

 
DDGS, % of BW daily
Contrast P-value
Item 0 0.5 1.0 SEM1 Linear Quadratic
Initial BW, kg 301 299 295 4.6 0.29 0.87
Final BW, kg 698 779 802 14.0 <0.001 0.09
ADG, kg/d 0.17 0.65 0.84 0.047 <0.001 0.02
Hay DMI, kg/d 6.2 5.3 4.4 0.14 <0.001 0.80
Hay DMI, % of BW/d 2.0 1.6 1.4 0.39 <0.001 0.21
DDGS DMI, kg/d 0 1.8 3.1 0.70 <0.001 0.002
DDGS DMI, % of BW/d 0 0.56 0.94 0.015 <0.001 <0.001
Total DMI, kg/d 6.2 7.1 7.6 0.15 <0.001 0.21
Total DMI, % of BW/d 2.0 2.2 2.3 0.03 <0.001 0.52
G:F 0.03 0.09 0.11 0.006 <0.001 0.006
1Pooled SEM (n = 23).

Daily visits to the hay feeders and total (both hay and DDGS) visits responded quadratically (P ≤ 0.01) as visits decreased to a greater extent when increasing DDGS supplementation from 0 to 0.5% DDGS than from 0.5 to 1% DDGS (Table 3). Visits to the DDGS feeders increased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing DDGS supplementation. Daily meals for hay and total diet decreased linearly (P ≤ 0.006) with increasing DDGS supplementation. Meals for DDGS responded quadratically (P = 0.009) as meals increased to a greater extent when increasing DDGS supplementation from 0 to 0.5% DDGS than from 0.5 to 1.0% DDGS. Visit eating time (minutes/visit) was not influenced by DDGS supplementation for hay or total intake and responded quadratically (P < 0.001) for DDGS as time was longest for the 0.5% DDGS treatment. Eating time per meal for hay and total diet increased linearly (P < 0.001) and for DDGS responded quadratically (P < 0.001) as time was longest for the 0.5% treatment. Daily eating time for hay and DDGS responded quadratically (P < 0.001) as time decreased to a greater extent when increasing from 0 to 0.5% DDGS supplementation than from 0.5 to 1% DDGS. Daily time spent eating for total diet decreased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing DDGS supplementation.


View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 3.

Influence of corn dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) supplementation on feeding behavior of growing steers fed medium-quality hay

 
DDGS, % of BW daily
Contrast P-value
Item 0 0.5 1.0 SEM1 Linear Quadratic
Eating events, no./day
    Visits
        Hay 54.8 37.9 37.1 2.47 <0.001 0.01
        DDGS 0 4.6 10.0 0.41 <0.001 0.42
        Total 54.8 42.5 47.1 2.54 0.03 0.008
    Meals
        Hay 12.1 10.9 10.5 0.39 0.006 0.41
        DDGS 0 2.7 4.5 0.13 <0.001 0.009
        Total 12.1 13.6 15.0 0.45 <0.001 0.95
Eating time, min
    Per visit
        Hay 4.8 5.5 4.9 0.38 0.84 0.21
        DDGS 0 4.6 3.4 0.30 <0.001 <0.001
        Total 4.8 5.3 4.5 0.33 0.47 0.13
    Per meal
        Hay 21.0 17.3 15.7 0.85 <0.001 0.33
        DDGS 0 7.3 7.0 0.42 <0.001 <0.001
        Total 21.0 15.3 13.0 0.78 <0.001 0.08
    Per day
        Hay 241 187 160 4.9 <0.001 0.03
        DDGS 0 18.9 30.0 1.18 <0.001 0.008
        Total 241 206 190 4.8 <0.001 0.10
Feed intake, g
    Per visit
        Hay 124 156 137 9.8 0.37 0.04
        DDGS 0 438 357 28.0 <0.001 <0.001
        Total 124 185 180 10.9 <0.001 0.02
    Per meal
        Hay 535 490 434 18.7 <0.001 0.81
        DDGS 0 711 727 36.2 <0.001 <0.001
        Total 535 529 517 19.4 0.51 0.88
    Per minute (eating rate)
        Hay 25.9 28.3 27.9 0.68 0.05 0.09
        DDGS 0 103 111 5.4 <0.001 <0.001
        Total 25.9 34.7 40.0 0.91 <0.001 0.11
1Pooled SEM (n = 23).

Feed intake (g) per visit for hay, DDGS, and total diet responded quadratically (P ≤ 0.04) with the greatest feed intake per visit observed for the 0.5% DDGS supplementation treatment. Feed intake per meal for hay decreased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing DDGS supplementation, responded quadratically (P < 0.001) for DDGS as feed intake per meal increased to a greater extent when supplementation increased from 0 to 0.5% DDGS than from 0.5% to 1% DDGS, and was not influenced by treatment for total diet. Feed intake per minute (eating rate) for hay and total diet increased linearly (P ≤ 0.05) with increasing DDGS supplementation and responded quadratically (P < 0.001) for DDGS as eating rate increased to a greater extent when increasing supplementation from 0 to 0.5% DDGS than from 0.5 to 1% DDGS.

Ultrasound LMA was not different between treatments on d 0 (Table 4). On d 84, LMA increased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing DDGS supplementation and change in LMA over the experiment responded quadratically (P = 0.001) as LMA increased to a lesser extent when increasing DDGS supplementation from 0.5 to 1% than from 0 to 0.5%. Back fat thickness did not differ between treatments on d 0. Back fat thickness on d 84 and change in back fat thickness increased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing supplementation of DDGS. Rump fat thickness did not differ between treatments on d 0. Rump fat thickness on d 84 and change in back fat thickness increased linearly (P ≤ 0.04) with increasing supplementation of DDGS. Intramuscular fat at d 0 and 84 as well as change in IMF did not differ among treatments.


View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 4.

Influence of corn dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) supplementation on ultrasound traits of growing steers fed medium-quality hay

 
DDGS, % of BW daily
Contrast P-value
Item 0 0.5 1 SEM1 Linear Quadratic
LM area, cm2
    Day 0 42.6 40.9 41.1 0.99 0.27 0.44
    Day 84 43.1 53.2 57.1 1.42 <0.001 0.08
    Gain2 0.5 12.3 16.0 1.05 <0.001 0.001
Rib fat, mm
    Day 0 4.16 4.23 3.93 0.206 0.42 0.45
    Day 84 3.64 5.10 5.44 0.253 <0.001 0.07
    Gain –0.52 0.87 1.51 0.273 <0.001 0.26
Rump fat, mm
    Day 0 2.68 2.78 2.80 0.155 0.57 0.83
    Day 84 2.70 3.07 3.40 0.177 0.006 0.91
    Gain 0.02 0.29 0.60 0.200 0.04 0.99
Intramuscular fat, %
    Day 0 3.34 3.16 3.26 0.148 0.68 0.45
    Day 84 3.53 3.11 3.30 0.163 0.30 0.12
    Gain 0.19 –0.05 0.04 0.155 0.56 0.42
1Pooled SEM (n = 23).
2Difference between d 84 and d 0 measurements.

There were significant day × treatment interactions (P < 0.001) for plasma glucose and urea N concentrations (Fig. 1). Glucose did not change over the feeding period in control steers but increased in both supplemented groups. Urea-N decreased for control steers over the feeding period whereas urea-N increased in supplemented steers. There was no day × treatment interaction or treatment effect for plasma NEFA concentration. There was a day effect (P < 0.001) for plasma NEFA with NEFA concentrations responding quadratically (P < 0.001; data not shown) over time with a greater rate of increase in plasma NEFA later in the feeding period than early in the feeding period.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Influence of corn dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) supplementation on plasma glucose (panel A), urea-N (panel B), and NEFA (panel C) of growing steers fed medium-quality hay. ● = no supplementation, ■ = DDGS offered at 0.5% of BW daily, and ▲ = DDGS offered at 1% of BW daily; DM basis.

 

DISCUSSION

Supplementation is often needed when forage quality or quantity is limited to maintain adequate performance of cattle fed or grazing forage. Research has suggested that DDGS can be a useful supplement for cattle fed or grazing forage (Griffin et al., 2012). In our experiment, supplementation of DDGS increased total DMI, G:F, and ADG and decreased hay intake. However, with increasing supplementation from 0.5 to 1% of BW (DM basis), ADG and G:F increased at a decreasing rate suggesting that the usefulness of DDGS as a source of supplemental protein and energy decreases with increasing feeding level. Griffin et al. (2012) conducted a meta-analysis from 20 experiments using DDGS as a supplement for forage-based growing cattle. Similar to our results, they reported increased ADG and total feed intake with DDGS supplementation. They also reported a quadratic effect of ADG with increasing DDGS supplementation in cattle fed in confinement. The ultrasound data also agree with our growth performance data suggesting that cattle supplemented with DDGS were gaining more muscle and fat than the control cattle. Additionally, plasma glucose concentrations were greater in cattle supplemented with DDGS suggesting cattle were at a higher plane of nutrition.

Data has suggested that changes in feeding behavior may be associated with changes in feed efficiency as more efficient calves (low residual feed intake) consumed smaller meals and had slower eating rates as compared to less efficient calves during the finishing period (Montanholi et al., 2010). Less is known about the effects of supplementation on feeding behavior. In our study, supplementation of DDGS altered hay feeding behavior by reducing the number of visits to the hay feeders and the amount of time that steers spent at the hay feeders per meal and per day. Supplementation of DDGS also decreased hay meals per day and feed intake per meal and increased eating rate. This suggests that supplementation resulted in cattle consuming fewer hay meals per day but those meals were smaller and were consumed at a faster rate. Research on grazing cattle has suggested that protein or energy supplementation decreased time spent grazing compared to cattle not receiving supplementation (Adams, 1985; Krysl and Hess, 1993). However, less information is available about supplementation effects on feeding behavior in confinement feeding situations and effects could be different between grazing and confinement situations. Further research is needed to understand how changes in feeding behavior influence feed digestion and use.

Changes in feeding behavior could be related to factors influencing satiety and feed intake. Depending on the amount and quality of the forage available, it may be beneficial to the producer to either increase or decrease forage intake. Forage replacement in our study was 0.50 and 0.58 kg forage replaced per kilogram of DDGS for the 0.5 and 1% DDGS treatments, respectively, which is slightly greater than those reported by Griffin et al. (2012). Protein supplementation for cattle fed low- to medium-quality forage may result in increased forage intake whereas energy supplementation may result in decreased forage intake (Caton and Dhuyvetter, 1997; Moore et al., 1999) although many factors influence feed intake and most supplements provide both energy and protein albeit at different ratios. Moore et al. (1999) suggested that when forage TDN:CP is less than 7, supplementation decreases forage intake. Because of the relatively high NDF and ADF in the forage and the CP being approximately 9.3% in the current experiment, the TDN:CP was likely less than 7. There likely are many factors responsible for why supplementation can decrease forage intake although nutrient composition of the supplement and the resulting interactions with rumen function likely are important (Caton and Dhuyvetter, 1997; Mertens, 1987).

Typically when bulky low energy feeds are fed, there is a greater effect of physical fill and less of an effect of energy density and chemostatic events on limiting feed intake than when higher energy feeds are fed (Bines, 1971; Fisher, 2002; Mertens, 1987). Factors that contribute to changes in rumen and digestive function also are important in regulating feed intake (Caton and Dhuyvetter, 1997; Mertens, 1987). Although the hay used in this study may have been deficient in CP to support greater ADG than observed in the control group for growing steers (NRC, 1996), the additional CP supplied by the DDGS did not result in increased intake even though N status in the rumen likely was more desirable in cattle supplemented with DDGS. The improved N status in the rumen in cattle supplemented with DDGS is supported by the increased plasma urea-N concentrations observed in cattle supplemented with DDGS along with the decreased plasma urea-N over time in control steers. However, the forage also likely was deficient in energy as indicated by the relatively high ADF and NDF concentrations. This concept is supported by the urea-N data as average urea-N concentrations were above 3.96 mM, the lower level of plasma urea-N concentration suggested to be necessary for maximal ADG (Byers and Moxon, 1980), for all time points and treatments except for control on d 56. This would suggest that the effects of DDGS on DMI and ADG were likely due to both dietary energy and protein. The decrease in forage intake observed with increased DDGS supplementation could be because of characteristics of the DDGS, such as energy density and fat concentration of the DDGS, which potentially could impact rumen function and chemostatic factors influencing feed intake. Taken together, changes in feed intake and feeding behavior likely were influenced by a combination of factors, which may include nutrient composition, energy density, and physical characteristics of the DDGS and hay.

In conclusion, supplementation of DDGS (from 0.5 to 1% of BW daily) can be used to reduce hay intake and improve ADG and G:F in growing steers fed medium-quality hay. Depending on hay and DDGS cost, DDGS may be a viable option for improving growth performance in cattle fed medium-quality hay diets. Additionally, DDGS supplementation alters feeding behavior. More research is necessary to better understand the impacts of altered feeding behavior on steer performance.

 

References

Footnotes


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