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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338924

Title: Analysis strategies for calculating intake for cattle with plant waxes

item HILBURGER, EMILY - University Of Nebraska
item WILSON, H - University Of Nebraska
item Freetly, Harvey
item LEWIS, RON - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science Supplement
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/27/2017
Publication Date: 7/1/2017
Citation: Hilburger, E., Wilson, H.C., Freetly, H.C., Lewis, R.M. 2017. Analysis strategies for calculating intake for cattle with plant waxes [abstract]. Journal of Animal Science. 95(Supplement 4):310.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Within grazing systems determining differences in efficiencies is difficult due to the complexity of measuring forage intakes. Plant waxes, particularly n-alkanes, have shown potential for estimating intakes. However, extracting and analyzing these compounds is costly. Minimizing the number of samples needed to reliably estimate intakes is key. We compared 3 strategies for using plant-wax contents of feces to estimate intakes: (i) from a single sample formed by pooling collections from 5 d, estimating intakes from the pool; (ii) from separate samples collected each of 5 d, averaging intake estimates; and, (iii) from a mathematical average of the 5 samples, estimating intakes from the average. Twenty-six heifers were fed a total mix ration (TMR; 69.8% corn silage, 30% alfalfa hay and 0.2% salt DM) with a Calan-gate system for 45 d. Heifers were dosed via supplement with C32 alkane at 1.3 mg / kg BW / d the final 14 d. Fecal grab samples were collected the final 5 d. The C31 and C33 alkane contents of the TMR and of its components were obtained using gas chromatography, with the values of the components proportionally weighted (0.7 corn silage; 0.3 alfalfa hay) to emulate TMR. The C31 and C33 contents of the fecal samples also were obtained. Intakes were estimated from ratios of C31 and C33 to C32 in the fecal samples and diets. Estimated intakes were more precise when based on pooled (R2 0.60 to 0.62) as compared to averaging (R2 0.47 to 0.51) strategies. This result reflected variability in daily intakes over 5 d. When regressing predicted on measured intakes, regardless of strategy or definition of diet, the intercept did not differ from zero (P > 0.35) and the slope did not differ from one (P > 0.08). When emulating TMR as a 2-component mixture the slopes were higher (1.4 to 1.5 vs. 1.1 to 1.2) and estimated less precisely (SE 0.17 to 0.24 vs. 0.23 to 0.31) than with TMR. This reflected the low C31 and C33 contents of corn compared to alfalfa, confounding their delineation in the mixture. With increasing complexity, such as rangelands, delineating individual plants becomes even more challenging. Intake estimates were adequate regardless of the approach adopted. However, using a pooled fecal sample decreased the number of samples evaluated and increased precision, both advantages. Furthermore, with simple diets, intakes could be reliably estimated using plant waxes.