Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Animal Science 2000. 78:207–215. Copyright © 2000 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


In situ and digestion studies were conducted to evaluate feather meal (FTH), blood meal (BM), and meat and bone meal (MBM) for escape protein content, amino acid composition of the escape protein, true protein digestibility, and digestibility of the individual amino acids. Following 12 h of ruminal incubation, escape protein values were 73.5, 92.4, and 60.8% of CP for FTH, BM, and MBM, respectively. Blood meal and MBM were poor sources of sulfur amino acids (SAA), whereas FTH was a good source. Most of the SAA of FTH, however, was Cys, with very little Met. True protein digestibilities were not different for the protein sources (P > .15), ranging from 86.7 to 94.0% of the CP. However, digestibilities of the individual amino acids were quite different. Two growth studies were conducted to evaluate FTH as a source of SAA for growing cattle. The first study used 120 steers (228 ± 15 kg) supplemented with urea, MBM, MBM plus 1% FTH, or MBM plus 2% FTH. Additionally, incremental amounts of rumen-protected Met were added to treatments containing MBM. Supplementation of MBM increased (P < .05) ADG compared with the urea control. Addition of FTH to MBM resulted in a linear (P < .01) increase in ADG. However, addition of rumen-protected Met to MBM plus FTH treatments further improved gains. Although FTH is an effective source of SAA, Met probably was first-limiting. The second study used 90 steers (243 ± 18 kg) supplemented with BM plus incremental amounts of SAA from either FTH or rumen-protected Met. Addition of SAA improved ADG compared with BM alone (P < .05). Rumen-protected Met as a source of SAA improved ADG compared with FTH (P < .05). The SAA from FTH promoted a gain response equal to 50% of the response obtained with rumen-protected Met. Formulation of ruminant diets for metabolizable amino acids must account for escape value and digestibility of each individual amino acid. Feather meal is an effective source of SAA; however, Cys supplies over five times the amount supplied by Met.