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Interpretive Summary: Calcium salts of fatty acids impacts the performance and carcass characteristics of Bos indicus bulls

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Supplementing lipids in feedlot cattle diets increases the fatty acid (FA) content and energy density of feed. In Brazil, calcium salts of fatty acids (CSFA) are becoming a popular addition to feedstuffs due to the improvements it has had on beef cattle performance. Specifically manufactured to survive transit through the rumen, CSFA can be made from nearly any lipid or combination of lipids.

In this recent Journal of Animal Science study, Bos indicus (Nellnore) bulls were given CSFA-supplemented feed and evaluated for improvements in performance and carcass/meat characteristics. B. indicus bulls were specifically chosen because their meat is lean with a low marbling score, leaving much room for improvement. The authors hypothesized that CSFA supplementation would improve both the performance and carcass/meat characteristics of B. indicus bulls.

Bulls were feedlot-finished and fed one of three different diets for 140 days. Diets included a corn-based control diet with no added CSFA (CON), the control diet with 3.3% CSFA from soybean oil (CSO), and a control diet with 3.3% CSFA from a palm-soybean-cottonseed oil mix (CPSCO). The CSFA mix had a higher concentration of saturated, palmitic and oleic FAs compared to the soybean oil CSFA. Bulls fed both types of CSFA-supplemented diets had improved performance, feed efficiency, carcass/meat characteristics and final body weight compared to the CON bulls, with CPSCO bulls outperforming the CSO bulls.

Overall, the results of this study support adding rumen-protected lipids to the diets of feedlot cattle. Because the type of lipids used to produce CSFA can impact performance and carcass characteristics, in-depth studies looking at which fatty acid profiles or combination of fatty acids most benefits feedlot cattle is justified.

The original article, Calcium salts of fatty acids with varying fatty acid profiles in diets of feedlot-finished Bos indicus bulls: impacts on intake, digestibility, performance, and carcass and meat characteristics, is available on the Journal of Animal Science website.