By Anne Zinn
A research team at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Baylor University has found that ground redberry juniper leaves and stems can be used as a cost-effective roughage source in lamb feedlot diets containing dried distillers grains with solubles (referred to as DDGS). The study, published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Animal Science, also evaluated a combination of juniper and oat hay as the roughage. The encouraging results of the study support the need for additional research into the economics of processing, storing, and using combined roughage sources (Whitney et al., 2014).
The exceptionally high feed costs incurred by livestock producers and feedlots in the last decade have spurred the search for alternative feed ingredients to reduce production costs without negatively affecting animal health and performance. One such ingredient, which can replace more expensive protein meals, is DDGS. Even though inclusion of DDGS at up to 40 to 60% of dietary dry matter seems to be acceptable, inclusion above that negatively impacts diet digestibility and lamb performance.
In Texas, redberry juniper infests more than 8 million hectares (20 million acres) of land, making it an important range management issue. The investigators reasoned that if ground redberry juniper could be effectively utilized as a livestock feed ingredient, it might reduce production costs and at the same time enhance rangeland forage production and ecosystem health.
The use of ground redberry juniper in DDGS-based feedlot diets was evaluated in 45 Rambouillet wether lambs over a 91-day trial split into two periods. Period 1 was 0 to 35 days and represented the growing period. Period 2 was 36 to 91 days and represented the finishing period. The researchers used 5 diets: a control diet that contained only oat hay as the roughage source, a diet with oat hay as the roughage source but with DDGS replacing cottonseed meal, and 3 DDGS diets with ground redberry juniper replacing 1/3, 2/3, or all of the oat hay.
The results showed that ground redberry juniper leaves and stems can effectively replace all of the oat hay in DDGS-based growing and finishing diets in lambs without negatively affecting animal health, performance, or wool characteristics. It is important to note, however, that using a combination of juniper and oat hay during the growing period increased growth performance and reduced total feedlot costs, compared with using either juniper or oat hay as the sole roughage source.
Based on their results, the authors suggest that the most economical feeding tactic would be the DDGS-based diet with a combination of 24% ground juniper and 12% oat hay (dry-matter basis) as the roughage source during the growing period, and then a transition to the ground juniper as the sole roughage source during the finishing period. They also argue that their research points to the need for more information surrounding the cost and effectiveness of combining roughage sources in growing and finishing diets.
ASAS Media Communications
ASAS Media Communications