September 17, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Associations of mucosal disaccharidases of steers with average daily gain

Interpretive Summary: Associations of mucosal disaccharidases of steers with average daily gain

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Improving the feed efficiency of cattle can have profound effects on production costs. Feed-related expenses are especially steep for beef cattle, comprising up to three quarters of production costs in some cases. Because a significant portion of digestion takes place in the small intestines, mucosal enzymes that break down starches and sugars may impact digestion and feed efficiency. Gaining a better understanding of the relationship between digestive carbohydrate degrading enzymes and feed efficiency is therefore a valuable area of study.

In this recent Journal of Animal Science article, researchers evaluated how mucosal disaccharidases affected the feed efficiency of cattle. They looked specifically at small intestinal jejunal mucosal enzymes for double sugars maltose and isomaltose, hypothesizing that increased disaccharidase activity would correlate with better feed efficiency.

Crossbred steers were separated into two groups based on their average daily gain (ADG). Both groups were fed the same basal diet comprised of dry-rolled corn, distillers grains with solubles and alfalfa hay. Intestinal samples were collected from animals with the highest and lowest ADG and analyzed for mucosal disaccharidases. Despite variations in disaccharidase enzyme activity, there was no correlation between enzyme activity and ADG in this study. 

Although the results of this study did not support the authors’ hypothesis, evaluating other markers of feed efficiency, or different carbohydrate degrading enzymes may yield different results. The value of understanding the relationship between carbohydrate degrading enzymes and feed efficiency is great, so further studies into the relationship between feed efficiency and mucosal disaccharidases is warranted.

The original article, Associations of mucosal disaccharidase kinetics and expression in the jejunum of steers with divergent average daily gain, will soon be available in the Journal of Animal Science.