Zenobi, M. G., Lardner, H. A., Jefferson, P. G. and McKinnon, J. J. 2015. Effect of feeding strategically blended feed pellets on rumen fermentation and nutrient digestion. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 95: 243-254. Five rumen-cannulated heifers (631±31 kg) were used in a 5×5 Latin square design to evaluate the effect of feeding blended by-product feed pellets (BP) on rumen fermentation and nutrient utilization. Four BP were formulated to be high in starch (HS) or fat (HF) and either low (LSP) or high (HSP) in soluble crude protein. The control diet consisted of 49.1% forage and 50.9% barley-based concentrate. Treatments were 50.3% forage and 49.7% BP (DM). Heifers fed HF BP had higher (P=0.05) mean pH values than those fed the control diet and tended (P=0.07) to have higher mean pH than those fed the HS BP. Feeding HF BP decreased (P<0.05) rumen propionate concentration without affecting acetate or total volatile fatty acid concentration. Rumen ammonia-nitrogen (N) levels and digestibility of crude protein was highest (P<0.05) for HS, intermediate for HF, and the lowest for the control. Feeding HF BP reduced (P<0.05) gross energy digestibility and digestible energy content relative to both the control and HS diets while both BP increased (P<0.01) their extract digestibility compared with the control. There was minimal effect of pellet soluble crude protein content. Total N excretion (% of N intake) was not affected (P>0.05) by treatment. These results indicate that BP had no adverse effects on rumen fermentation or apparent nutrient digestibility and did not result in issues with excess nutrient excretion. As such BP can be used as an alternative energy source in backgrounding diets to cereal grains and can help counteract volatility in feed grain prices.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2