Effects of Partial or Total Replacement of Maize with Alternative Feed Source on Digestibility, Growth Performance, Blood Metabolites and Economics in Limousin Crossbred Cattle

  • Shi, F.H. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Fang, L. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Meng, Q.X. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Wu, H. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Du, J.P. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Xie, X.X. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Ren, L.P. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Zhou, Z.M. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University) ;
  • Zhou, B. (State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2014.01.23
  • Accepted : 2014.04.15
  • Published : 2014.10.01


Increasing cost and scarcity of maize has stimulated the use of alternative feed sources (AFS) in the diets of cattle. In this study, we investigated the effects of partial or total replacement of maize on nutrient digestibility, growth performance, blood metabolites, and economics in Limousin crossbred feedlot cattle. Forty-five $Limousin{\times}Luxi$ crossbred bulls were randomly assigned to the three treatment groups, orthodox diet (OD; 45.0% maize), partial replacement diet (PRD; 15% maize, 67% AFS), total replacement diet (TRD; 0% maize, 100% AFS). The growth feeding trial lasted for 98 days. Dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) were recorded. The digestion trial was carried out after the end of the growth trial. Total faeces and feed samples were measured daily. Digestibilities of dry matter (DM) and organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) were calculated. After the feeding trial, blood metabolites were measured in 12 animals from each group. Initial and final body weights did not differ significantly among treatment groups (p>0.05). The ADG and DMI were 1.72 and 8.66, 1.60 and 9.10, and 1.40 and 9.11 kg/d for OD, PRD, and TRD, respectively. The PRD and TRD exhibited lower ADG (p<0.01) and higher DMI (p<0.01) than OD. The DMI (%body weight) was comparable between groups (p>0.5). Feed efficiency of PRD and TRD were lower than OD (p<0.01). The DM digestibility decreased with reduced level of maize (p = 0.10), OM digestibility was higher in OD (p<0.05), and CP, NDF and ADF digestibilities were similar for all groups (p>0.05). Blood urea nitrogen (mg/dL) in PRD and TRD was higher than OD (p<0.01), while other blood parameters did not differ significantly. Feed costs ($/head/d) were 1.49, 0.98, and 0.72 for OD, PRD, and TRD, respectively (p<0.01). Feed costs per kg gain ($) were significantly lower for PRD (0.63) and TRD (0.54) than OD (0.89; p<0.01). Overall profit ($/head) and daily profit ($/head/d) did not differ significantly between treatments (p>0.05), although TRD showed the highest economic benefits overall (p<0.01). While a traditional diet maximized the growth rate, partial or total replacement of dietary maize with AFS proved economically feasible due to their lower costs and comparable nutrient digestibilities of DM, CP, NDF, and ADF. Partial replacement may prove economically competitive in the current situation of China.


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