Performance and ultrasound measurements of beef cattle fed diets based on whole corn or oats grains

Hugo M. Arelovich1*, Rodrigo D. Bravo2, Marcela F. Martínez2, Pedro L. Forgue2, and Sergio O. Torquati2
This study intended to contrast dietary effects of whole grain oats versus corn included in rations with moderate roughage content on animal performance, beef ultrasound measurements, rumen and blood parameters. Ten Aberdeen Angus steers (203 kg) in individual pens were fed twice daily on either whole oats (OD) or corn (CD) based diets. Measurements were: DM intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), feed to gain ratio (F/G); back fat (BF) and rib eye area (RA); blood parameters. Four cannulated steers were used to study rumen pH, NH3-N and grain degradability. Rations dietary components were 55% grain, 30.1% barley straw, and 10.6% whole soybeans. Despite calculated higher ME supply (P = 0.0887) no differences were found for DMI, ADG, or F/G. Metabolizable protein intake (19.4%) was larger and degradable protein intake (43.3%) smaller for CD compared with OD (P < 0.01). The growth rate (cm2 d-1) for RA was 40% grater for OD, but larger BF deposition (P = 0.0787) was found for CD. Blood Mg was higher for OD (p = 0.0564), nevertheless other blood parameters remained unaffected. Rumen pH and NH3-N were not influenced by diet, variations were only observed within time periods. Rumen pH decreased linearly from 7.05 to 6.13 and 7.11 to 6.37 for OD and CD respectively (P < 0.05). Minimum NH3-N concentrations (mg dL-1) were reached 12 and 18 h after morning meal for OD (7.10) and CD (5.82) respectively. Rumen degradation was larger for oats than corn. Whole oats rather than corn fed up to 55% of total DM seems to improve protein deposition, without significant changes in animal performance, rumen environment or blood parameters.
Keywords: Blood parameters, feed efficiency, rumen environment, steers
1Universidad Nacional del Sur, Departamento de Agronomía (CERZOS-CIC Provincia de Buenos Aires), San Andrés 800, 8000 Bahía Blanca, Argentina. *Corresponding author (hugoarel@criba.edu.ar). 2Universidad Nacional del Sur, Departamento de Agronomía. San Andrés 800, 8000 Bahía Blanca, Argentina.