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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition and Environmental Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341378

Research Project: Improved Nutrient Efficiency of Beef Cattle and Swine

Location: Nutrition and Environmental Management Research

Title: Rumen bacterial community structure impacts feed efficiency in beef cattle

Author
item PAZ, HENRY - University Of Nebraska
item Hales, Kristin
item Wells, James - Jim
item Kuehn, Larry
item Freetly, Harvey
item Berry, Elaine
item Flythe, Michael
item SPANGLER, MATTHEW - University Of Nebraska
item FERNANDO, SAMODHA - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/23/2017
Publication Date: 4/3/2018
Citation: Paz, H.A., Hales Paxton, K.E., Wells, J., Kuehn, L.A., Freetly, H.C., Berry, E.D., Flythe, M.D., Spangler, M.L., Fernando, S. 2018. Rumen bacterial community structure impacts feed efficiency in beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science. 96(3):1045-1058. https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skx081.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skx081

Interpretive Summary: Feed efficiency is an indicator of economical and environmental sustainable beef production. Although the importance of the rumen microbes on nutrient availability to the animal is well recognized, our understanding of the influence of the rumen microbiome composition on feed efficiency is limited. Here, we present specific rumen bacterial features that impact average daily feed intake, average daily gain, and gain-to-feed efficiency in beef cattle. Based on a regression approach using individual growth performance measures, animals from a group of heifers fed a forage-based diet and animals from a group of steers fed a concentrate-based diet were classified into differing feed efficiency categories. Within each group, a subset of animals was used as the discovery population to identify similar groups of bacteria in the rumen across the different feed efficiency categories. Within the heifers measured, regression models explained 19.3%, 25.3%, and 19.8% of the variation for average daily feed intake, average daily gain, and feed efficiency. Within the steers measured, regression models explained 27.7%, 32.5%, and 26.9% of the variation for average daily feed intake, average daily gain, and feed efficiency. Associating the rumen microbiome and feed efficiency traits will provide novel opportunities to improve our understanding of mechanisms that influence feed efficiency towards increasing animal production.

Technical Abstract: The importance of the rumen microbiota on nutrient cycling to the animal is well recognized; however, our understanding of the influence of the rumen microbiome composition on feed efficiency is limited. The rumen microbiomes of two large animal cohorts (125 heifers and 122 steers) were characterized to identify specific bacterial members (operational taxonomic units [OTUs]) associated with feed efficiency traits (ADFI, ADG, and G:F) in beef cattle. The heifer and steer cohorts were fed a forage-based diet and a concentrate-based diet, respectively. A rumen sample was obtained from each animal via esophageal tubing and bacterial community composition was determined through 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the V4 region. Based on a regression approach that used individual performance measures, animals were classified into divergent feed efficiency groups. Within cohort, an extreme set of 16 animals from these divergent groups was selected as a discovery population to identify differentially abundant OTUs across the rumen bacterial communities. The remaining samples from each cohort were selected to perform forward stepwise regressions using the differentially abundant OTUs as explanatory variables to distinguish predictive OTUs for the feed efficiency traits and to quantify the OTUs collective impact on feed efficiency phenotypes. OTUs belonging to the families Prevotellaceae and Victivallaceae were present across models for heifers, whereas OTUs belonging to the families Prevotellaceae and Lachnospiraceae were present across models for steers. Within the heifer cohort, models explained 19.3%, 25.3%, and 19.8% of the variation for ADFI, ADG, and G:F, respectively. Within the steer cohort, models explained 27.7%, 32.5%, and 26.9% of the variation for ADFI, ADG, and G:F, respectively. Overall, this study suggests a substantial role of the rumen microbiome on feed efficiency responses.