Red clover supplementation modifies rumen fermentation and promotes feed efficiency in ram lambs
By: Jennifer R Weinert-Nelson, Donald G Ely, Michael D Flythe, Tracy A Hamilton, John B May, Jessica L Ferrell, Matthew C Hamilton, Whitney LeeAnn Jacks, Brittany E Davis
Red clover is rich in the bioactive isoflavone, biochanin A. The goal was to evaluate the impacts of biochanin A supplementation via red clover hay on growth performance of ram lambs as well as the rumen microbiota and fermentation. Low levels of red clover hay inclusion (7.5% and 15.0%, w/w, of the total diet) in high-concentrate finishing diets improved feed efficiency of ram lambs, promoting weight gain while decreasing feed intake. Red clover hay supplementation suppressed ruminal protein-wasting, peptide- and amino-acid degrading and starch-utilizing bacteria compared to control diets without isoflavones. Red clover hay also promoted fiber degrading bacteria and fiber utilization. Lamb growth and microbiological effects of red clover were consistent regardless of supplementation level in the diet. Results of this study indicate that low levels of red clover hay can produce production benefits in lamb finishing systems and demonstrated the efficacy of red clover as a functional feed, or feed with biological activities, in the context of its traditional use as a forage feedstuff.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.