This study examines the effect of including graded levels of safflower meal (SM) [0 (SM0), 150 (SM15), or 200 g kg-1 dry matter (SM20)] in diets of Katahdin–Pelibuey lambs on ruminal fermentation, growth performance, and meat quality. Experimental diets were randomly allocated to 24 lambs (29.25 ± 0.55 kg) in a 60 d feeding trial. On day 30, rumen fluid was collected from each sheep at 0, 3, and 6 h after morning feeding to measure pH, ammonia, and volatile fatty acids. Feed intake, nutrient digestibility, growth performance, carcass characteristics, and meat quality were also measured. Feed intake, ruminal volatile fatty acids concentration, dry matter, and crude protein digestibility were not affected (P > 0.05) by diets. Lambs fed on SM15 had higher (P < 0.05) ruminal pH at 3 and 6 h post feeding compared with those on SM0 and SM20. Inclusion of SM increased (P < 0.05) ruminal ammonia concentration at 3 and 6 h post feeding; however, daily gain decreased with increasing levels of SM. Diets did not affect (P > 0.05) carcass and meat quality traits. Feeding SM-containing diets resulted in similar feed utilization, carcass characteristics, and meat quality to the control diet while improving ruminal fermentation parameters.
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Vol. 99 • No. 2