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Interpretive Summary: Intake, ruminal fermentation parameters, and apparent total-tract digestibility by beef steers consuming Pensacola bahiagrass hay treated with calcium oxide

By: Francine M. Ciriaco, Darren D. Henry, Luara B. Canal, Pedro L. P.  Fontes, G. Cliff  Lamb, and Nicolas DiLorenzo

With the ever-growing desire to increase efficiency in beef cattle production,  researchers have developed strategies such as treating poor-quality forages with chemicals to increase the digestibility of fiber fractions, consequently increasing their energy value for cattle feeding. Calcium oxide has been proposed as  a replacement to more  caustic chemicals  used in the past (e.g.,  NaOH) and data indicate  that it  can promote similar  and effective outcomes. The current study evaluated the effects of bahiagrass hay treated with calcium oxide on ruminal fermentation parameters, apparent total-tract digestibility of nutrients, and intake by beef steers consuming hay ad libitum as the sole ingredient in their diet.  Additionally, in vitro organic matter digestibility was evaluated on the hay provided to steers to assess treatment effectiveness. Results indicated that steers consuming bahiagrass hay treated with calcium oxide had 1) increased pH and reduced volatile fatty acids concentrations in the rumen; 2) reduced or tendency for reduction on total-tract digestibility of fiber fractions; and 3) no effect on intake, all when compared with steers consuming untreated hay. In contrast, in vitro results indicated that organic matter digestibility was increased when the forage was treated with calcium oxide.

Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science.