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Effects of fibre digestibility and level of roughage on performance and rumen fermentation of finishing beef cattle


The objective was to evaluate effects of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) digestibility and level of fresh sugarcane on intake, body fatness, carcass characteristics, and rumen kinetics and fermentation of beef cattle. Forty-eight Nellore young bulls were used in a complete randomized block design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Eight rumen-cannulated Nellore steers were used in a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square design. Two sugarcane genotypes divergent for stalk NDF digestibility (NDFD) were used. Experimental diets were formulated with 20 or 40% of sugarcane on a dry matter (DM) basis. High-NDFD genotype associated with the lower level of roughage in the diet promoted greater DM intake, resulting in greater body gain. Sugarcane with high-NDFD increased final body weight, hot carcass weight, and back-fat thickness. Animals receiving the genotype with high NDFD had greater rump-fat thickness only with 40% sugarcane in the diet. Animals receiving the low-NDFD genotype at 20% of the diet had lower NDF passage rate. Rumen pH was greater for diets with greater NDF content. There was greater proportion of butyrate in the rumen of animals receiving diets with greater NDF content. In conclusion, high-NDFD sugarcane increased final body and carcass weight, HCW, and fat thickness. When associated with lower inclusion of roughage in the diet, it can also increase DM intake and body weight gain of beef cattle.

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The authors wish to thank the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP-Grant 2009/00976-2) for financial support.

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Correspondence to Luis Felipe Prada Silva.

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All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Sousa, D.O., Mesquita, B.d., Pires, A.V. et al. Effects of fibre digestibility and level of roughage on performance and rumen fermentation of finishing beef cattle. Trop Anim Health Prod 49, 1503–1510 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-017-1353-1

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  • Intake
  • NDF digestibility
  • Passage rate
  • Rumen bacteria
  • Sugarcane