Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2004. 82:2153–2163. Copyright © 2004 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Three finishing trials were conducted to determine the effects of dietary manipulation and management on N losses from open feedlots. In each experiment, 96 steers were assigned randomly to 12 nutrient balance pens. In Trial 1, calves were fed for 180 d during the winter/spring months; in Trial 2, yearlings were fed for 132 d in the summer. In Trials 1 and 2, N losses from pens were compared directly by adding OM to the pen surface or indirectly by feeding digestible ingredients designed to increase OM excretion. The dietary treatment (BRAN) included 30% corn bran (DM basis) replacing dry-rolled corn. Pens where OM was directly added received sawdust applications (SAWDUST) at a rate to match OM excretion from the BRAN diet. These two treatments were compared with a conventional, 75% dry-rolled corn diet (CON). Because CON and SAWDUST diets were identical, performance for both treatments was similar during Trials 1 and 2. The BRAN diet decreased (P < 0.10) gain efficiency during Trials 1 and 2 by 9.5% relative to CON. Fecal N excretion was greater (P < 0.01) for calves and yearlings when BRAN was fed compared with CON. Adding OM to the pen surface increased (P < 0.01) the amount of N in manure removed from pens and reduced (P < 0.10) N losses in Trial 1. Nitrogen losses were not significantly different among treatments in Trial 2. In Trial 3, calves were fed for 166 d during the winter/spring months. A 2 × 2 factorial design was used to evaluate pen cleaning frequency and diets similar to CON and BRAN. Pens were either cleaned monthly or once at the end of the feeding period. Daily DMI was greater (P = 0.01) and ADG was lower (P < 0.01) when cattle were fed BRAN compared with CON. Responses from all three trials indicate a negative effect of BRAN on gain efficiency. Dietary treatment and cleaning frequency interacted for N balance in the feedlot. Nitrogen losses decreased and manure N increased (P < 0.10) for cattle fed BRAN compared with CON when pens were cleaned monthly. Feeding BRAN did not affect total manure N, but resulted in higher N losses when pens were cleaned only once. For all trials, BRAN increased the amount of N remaining in composted manure. Adding OM to pen surfaces and/or cleaning pens more frequently may decrease N losses from open feedlot pens and from compost, although responses seem influenced by ambient temperature or season.