Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Supplementation with Calliandra calothyrsus improves nitrogen retention in cattle fed low-protein diets

D. Korir A B , J. P. Goopy A D , C. Gachuiri B and K. Butterbach-Bahl A C

A International Livestock Research Institute, PO Box 30709-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

B University of Nairobi, Department of Animal Production, PO Box 29053-00625, Nairobi, Kenya.

C Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research, Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19 82467, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

D Corresponding author. Email: j.goopy@cgiar.org

Animal Production Science 56(3) 619-626 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN15569
Submitted: 12 September 2015  Accepted: 15 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

Ruminant productivity in the tropical Africa has remained low despite decades of research on animal nutrition and introduction of new breeds of animals mainly because of low-quality feeds available, especially during the dry season that is inefficiently utilised. This results in prolonged time for animals to mature and increased nutrient excretion to the environment. We conducted a study using yearling steers (n = 12, liveweight (LW) = 161.8 ± 10.89 kg) in a 3 × 3 Latin square to evaluate the effect of protein supplementation and supplementation frequency on intake, digestibility, nitrogen (N) retention and microbial N supply in cattle consuming low-protein diets. The steers were maintained on ad libitum wheat straw (DM = 877 ± 5 g/kg, crude protein (CP) = 20.0 ± 1.1 g/kg), with supplemental protein supplied as air-dried Calliandra calothyrsus leaves (DM = 897 ± 3 g/kg, CP = 257.5 ± 4.1 g/kg on a DM basis). Samples of basal diet, supplement, refusals, faecal matter and urine were collected and analysed per treatment. Supplementation increased intakes by the steers (P < 0.001), with no difference between the two supplementation frequencies (P > 0.404). Steers lost bodyweight (P < 0.05) on all treatments, but less so when supplemented. Nitrogen losses was reduced (P < 0.001) with supplementation (–33.3% vs 15.7%, s.e.m. 0.06). The increased N balance in animals receiving supplemented diets indicated that N retention actually improves with increased protein supplementation in animals fed low-protein diets, implying that improving protein supply to animals fed submaintenance diets will not only ameliorate production losses, but will actually decrease non-enteric greenhouse gas production and environmental N losses per animal product unit obtained.

Additional keywords: environmental N loss, nitrous oxide, ruminants.


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