Impact of Ambient Temperature and Dietary Crude Protein in Wethers: Nitrogen Metabolism and Feed Efficiency

  • Sun, Sangsoo (Department of Animal Science, Institute of Biotechnology, Chonnam National University) ;
  • Christopherson, Robert J. (Department of Animal Science, University of Alberta)
  • Received : 2001.03.20
  • Accepted : 2001.05.18
  • Published : 2001.09.01


Young lambs (Suffolk wethers, n=18), which were 22 to 26 kg average BW, were chronically exposed to temperatures of +1 to +$4^{\circ}C$ (cold) or +21 to +$24^{\circ}C$ (warm) during 10 wk experimental periods. The sheep were closely shorn and were housed in individual metabolism crates in controlled environment rooms. Sheep consumed pelleted diets ad libitum, which consisted of mainly barley grain and brome grass, and contained 7, 11, or 14% CP. The experimental design consisted of a $2{\times}3$ factorial with a single crossover of environment treatment. Feed intake, BW, feces, and urine excretion were measured. Apparent digestibilities were not affected by diet CP concentration or temperature treatments; however, voluntary intake per kg BW was increased (p<0.05) by diet CP content in both environments. Growing lambs gained weight slightly faster in a cold environment when N intake was above 27 g/d. Nitrogen excretion and N balance were positively related (p<0.01) with diet CP content, and fecal N excretion was significantly increased (p<0.05) in the cold environment. Therefore, dietary CP content strongly influenced N metabolism; however, cold exposure did alter only fecal N excretion. The higher DM intake per kg BW at 11% CP diet in the cold environment permitted ADG comparable to 14% CP diet in the warm environment. The results of this study do support the hypothesis that lambs are better able to utilize a moderate reduction in the CP content of the diet in a cold environment.