Energy to protein ratios in supplements for grazing heifers in the rainy season
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This study evaluated the effect of energy and protein supplementation on the nutritional characteristics, ingestive behavior, and productive performance in grazing heifers during the rainy season. Forty crossbred heifers (Nelore breed predominance) were used in the study, with an age of 14 months and an initial mean weight of 182 ± 1.13 kg. The treatments consisted of mineral supplementation ad libitum (control) and three supplements formulated to contain an energy: protein ratio (TDN:CP) of 1.13, 2.62, and 4.06; these were denominated as low (LC, 0.5 kg animal d−1), medium (MC, 1.0 kg animal d−1), and high consumption (HC, 1.5 kg animal d−1), respectively, in order to guarantee an intake of 300 g of crude protein (CP) animal−1 d −1, with variation in energy content. There was a difference (P < 0.05) in crude protein intake, with a 44% reduction for the LC treatment in relation to HC. The lowest grazing time (398 min) was observed with the MC treatment. Urinary urea-N (UreaN) was lower for control animals (P < 0.05). Average daily gain (ADG) was lower for the control animals than for the supplemented animals (P < 0.05); there was no difference in ADG between the animals receiving supplementation. High supplementation levels and TDN:CP ratios are not recommended because they do not justify the increased costs of supplementation. Therefore, when forage presents great nutritional characteristics, it is possible to optimize the performance of the animals with low to medium consumption supplementation.
KeywordsIngestive behavior Nutritional characteristics Performance Ruminant nutrition
The authors thank the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for their financial support.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Statements of animal rights
The management and care of the animals was conducted according to the guidelines and recommendations of the International Guiding Principles for Biomedical Research Involving Animals (CIOMS), Geneva, 1985. All procedures were approved by the Federal University of Mato Grosso (register no. 63/2014), Rondonópolis, Brazil.
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