Two experiments with lambs given food indoors and individually penned were designed to study the effects of different levels of ground maize and citrus pulp as supplements of a diet based on urea-treated straw (5 kg urea per 100 kg straw) offered ad libitum over a period of 16 weeks (experiment 1) or 10 weeks (experiment 2). The voluntary intake, live-weight gain (LWG), organic matter digestibility (OMD), urinary allantoin-nitrogen (UAN) excretion and acetate clearance rate were measured. The lambs were blocked on weight and randomly assigned to the treatments described below. Ruminal outflow rate of the solid and liquid phases from the rumen were also measured in experiment 2.
In experiment 1, 20 female lambs from the Ile-de-France breed, with an initial live weight (LW) of 43 (s.e. 3·3) kg were used. Wheat straw (WS) was supplemented with 50 g/kg of fish meal (FM) and with 0, 100, 200 or 300 g/kg of ground maize on a dry-matter (DM) basis (M0, M1, M2 and M3, respectively). In experiment 2, 25 female lambs from the Portuguese breed Churra-da-Terra-Quente, with an initial LW of 24·2 (s.e. 4·3) kg were used. The straw was offered ad libitum during 10 weeks and supplemented with 50 g/kg of FM and 0, 100, 200, 300, or 400 g/kg of dried citrus pulp on a DM basis (CP0, CP1, CP2, CP3 and CP4, respectively).
During the experiments, all animals were moved to metabolism cages to measure OMD and UAN excretion. Two additional incubation studies were carried out with rumen fistulated rams (experiment 1) or cows (experiment 2) given the diets described above close to the maintenance feeding level.
In experiment 1 daily straw DM intake linearly decreased (P < 0·05) from 21·6 to 17·7 g/kg LW and LWG linearly increased (P < 0·05) from 51 to 154 g/day for treatments M0, M1, M2 and M3, respectively. The rate of straw DM degradation was significantly decreased (P < 0·01) by maize supplementation. Straw OMD (kg/kg) was 0·562, 0·583, 0·547 and 0·520 and UAN (mg/day) was 620, 790, 854 and 859 for treatments M0, M1, M2 and M3, respectively. Acetate clearance rate, increased (P < 0·05) as the level of maize inclusion increased.
In experiment 2 daily straw DM intake was 23·3, 25·8, 24·7, 23·5 and 18·6 g/kg LW per day and LWG was –9, 28, 44, 64 and 67 g/day for treatments CP0, CP1, CP2, CP3 and CP4, respectively. Supplementation significantly increased LWG (P < 0·001) but at the 400 g/kg level depressed straw DM intake. Straw OMD linearly decreased (P < 0·05) from 0·484 (CP0) to 0·428 (CP4) g/kg and UAN (mg/day) was 181, 303, 363, 384 and 392 for treatments CP0, CP1, CP2, CP3 and CP4, respectively. Rumen outflow rate of fibre particles was unaffected by supplementation while the outflow of liquid phase tended to be increased (P < 0·10). The rate of DM degradation was significantly reduced (P < 0·01) by citrus-pulp inclusion. Acetate clearance rate was unaffected (P > 0·05) by citrus-pulp supplementation.
The results of these experiments demonstrate that supplementation of urea-treated straw with ground maize up to 200 g/kg or with citrus pulp up to 300 g/kg of the diet DM increased or did not depress straw intake, increased the supply of microbial protein and have no significant effect on straw digestibility. The efficiency of utilization of absorbed energy was apparently improved by maize but not by citrus-pulp supplementation.