Growth and efficiencies of nitrogen and energy utilization for growth by 72 young British Friesian steers (initial live weight (LW) 110 kg) offered a well preserved, formic acid-treated, perennial ryegrass silage with and without supplements of fish meal were examined. Silage was offered either alone or mixed with 50, 100 or 150 g fish meal/kg silage dry matter (DM) and each diet was offered either ad libitum or intakes were restricted to 16, 19 or 22 g dietary DM/kg LW/day. Treatments were imposed over a period of 132 days. Body component weight gains were determined by comparative slaughter.
Increasing the level of either feeding or fish meal increased rates of empty body weight gain linearly (P<0·001) and curvilinearly (P<0·05) respectively. Fish-meal supplementation increased rates of ash and crude protein gain (P<0·001) but, in comparison with the curvilinear response to increasing level of feeding (P<0·001), had small linear effects on fat gain (P>0·01). Consequently, in terms of whole body composition, animals given fish meal were leaner than animals offered silage alone. Fish-meal supplementation had no significant effect on the composition of the carcass but increased the concentration of protein in the liver and gastrointestinal tract.
The increase in nitrogen intake associated with feeding fish meal resulted in a reduction in the efficiency of nitrogen utilization as level of fish meal increased. Nitrogen intake required for maintenance was estimated to be 1·054 g/kg LW0·75. In spite of marked differences in the composition of the empty body-weight gain, there was no evidence to support an effect of fish meal on the efficiency of metabolizable energy (ME) utilization for growth (kf) which was estimated to be 0·346 on the basis of data scaled by LW0·75. ME intake required for maintenance (MEm) was estimated to be 0·536 and 0·502 MJ/kg LW0·75 for silage alone and the 150 g fish-meal level respectively.