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CALS Research and Impact

Information about CALS research projects and their impact throughout the world

CALS projectJanuary 2007

Formulation of diets for sheep, goats, and cattle to include minimum concentrations of fermentable fiber

summary 
It is often more economical to feed grains and their by-products to young, growing ruminants and, under certain conditions, to breeding and lactating animals than it is to feed forage. But experimental results have shown that the ingredient composition of grains and their by-products, primarily their fermentable fiber level, alters maximum dry matter intake. Low levels of fermentable fiber leads to metabolic disturbances. In response to these findings, a new concept was developed to balance diets for the carbohydrate fractions (fermentable fiber and nonstructural carbohydrates) that provide energy, rather than balancing on energy values, per se. Fermentable fiber values were assigned to feed ingredients and minimum fermentable fiber levels and maximum nonstructural carbohydrate levels were suggested for several classes of cattle, sheep, and goats. A diet formulation software tool was developed to implement these recommendations. Diets formulated for several commercial cattle, sheep, and goat farms resulted in healthier animals and improved feed intake and production. The new method of diet formulation provides a rational way to incorporate the projected large increases of by-product ingredients from ethanol production into diets for cattle, sheep, and goats. Diets using these ingredients will improve animal health and productivity. Feeding such diets to specific classes of non-grazing livestock will enable farmers to make more productive use of pastures and forages that provide the basis of livestock farming in New York.
issue 
Grains and their by-products often are more economical than forage to feed to young, growing ruminants. Often, there are years when preserved forages are so expensive that concentrate feeds are a comparatively economical source of nutrients for breeding and lactating animals. However, the feeding of concentrates can result in metabolic disturbances that lead to acidosis and a reduction in feed intake. These metabolic disturbances can be eliminated by including a minimum dietary concentration of fermentable fiber. Many grain by-product ingredients - such as soy hulls, dried distiller's grains, and wheat midds - offer the opportunity to increase the concentration of fermentable fiber so that concentrate feeds can better replace a large portion of the forage in ruminant diets.
response 
Experimental results have shown that ingredient composition, primarily fermentable fiber level, alters maximum dry matter intake. In response, a new concept was developed to balance diets for the carbohydrate fractions (potentially-fermentable fiber and nonstructural carbohydrates) that provide energy, rather than balancing on energy values. Based upon concepts taken from the scientific literature, fermentable fiber values were assigned to feed ingredients, and minimum fermentable fiber levels and maximum nonstructural carbohydrate levels were suggested for several classes of cattle, sheep, and goats. A diet formulation software tool was developed to implement these recommendations. Diets formulated for several commercial cattle, sheep, and goat farms resulted in healthier animals and improved feed intake and production. Recent work has shown that digestibility of the fiber in by-product ingredients can decline much more rapidly than expected for animals that consume high daily quantities of feed. This has revised our recommendations about feeding byproduct ingredients.
impact 
The quantities of by-products from processing wheat, soybeans, and corn are predicted to increase dramatically within a few years. The new method of diet formulation based upon minimum potentially-fermentable fiber levels and maximum nonstructural carbohydrate levels will provide a rational way to incorporate these ingredients into diets for cattle, sheep, and goats. Diets using these ingredients will improve animal health and productivity. Feeding such diets to specific classes of livestock will enable cattle, sheep, and goat farmers to make more productive use of pastures and forages that provide the basis of livestock farming in New York.
funding type 
Unspecified
funded by 
Hatch
Smith Lever 3(b) & (c)
researchers involved 
  • Hein, Danielle
  • Hogue, Douglas E.
  • Magee, Brian
  • Schotthofer, Melaine
organizations involved 
Unspecified
academic priority area 
Land Grant Mission
contribution area 
Extension/Outreach
Research
Teaching
domestic geographic focus 
All NY Counties
New York
Idaho
Wisconsin
Nebraska
USDA topic area 
Enhance Economic Opportunities for Agricultural Producer
timeframe 
January 2007