Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 January 2019
The objective of the current experiment was to determine the effects of increasing levels of palm kernel cake in a finishing diet on feed intake, digestibility, performance, ingestive behaviour and carcass traits in zebu bulls. Thirty-two Nellore bulls (420 ± 25.0 kg initial body weight [BW] and 24-months-old), were assigned randomly to individual pens with four treatments (0, 70, 140 and 210 g/kg of palm kernel cake by total dry matter [DM]) and eight replicates per treatment. The inclusion of palm kernel cake linearly decreased DM, crude protein and non-fibrous carbohydrate intake and increased ether extraction intake and digestibility. There was a linear decrease in final BW and hot carcass weight (HCW) associated with palm kernel cake inclusion in the bull diet. However, the gain : feed ratio was similar among the diets. Eating and rumination rates (g DM or neutral detergent fibre/h) were reduced, whereas the total chewing time and idling (min/day) were not affected by palm kernel cake inclusion. There were no effects of palm kernel cake inclusion on most quantitative carcass characteristics and qualitative carcass attributes (subcutaneous fat thickness, longissimus muscle area, colour, texture and marbling). The inclusion of palm kernel cake (up to 210 g/kg total DM) in beef cattle finishing diets decreased eating and rumination rates, thereby decreasing average daily gain and, consequently, final BW and HCW. However, qualitative carcass attributes were not affected by the use of palm kernel cake.
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