Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



J. Anim. Sci. 2014.92:3035–3041 doi:10.2527/jas2013-7339


Used by permission


Cattle feedlot diets commonly contain ethanol coproducts that are high in S. This dietary S is reduced in the rumen by sulfate reducing bacteria, resulting in an accumulation of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), increasing the risk for S toxicity. A negative correlation between H2S and ruminal pH has been observed previously. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of varying dietary NDF from chopped bromegrass hay (66% NDF) on performance, ruminal pH, and ruminal H2S gas concentration of steers fed a high-S finishing diet. One hundred fifty crossbred steers (359 ± 51 kg BW) were blocked by BW into pens of 5 steers and randomly assigned within block to 1 of 5 treatments (n = 6 pens per treatment) and fed for 84 d. Dietary treatments included 3.5, 5.7, 7.9, 10.1, or 11.4% roughage NDF (rNDF) from bromegrass hay and contained 0.46% dietary S from a combination of dried distillers grains with solubles and condensed corn distillers solubles. In all diets, hay was added at the expense of dry-rolled corn. Effective NDF increased linearly (P < 0.01) with increased inclusion of rNDF. Final BW was not affected by rNDF (P ≥ 0.12). The addition of roughage did not affect ADG (P ≥ 0.13) or gain efficiency (P ≥ 0.12). Dry matter intake increased linearly (P < 0.01) as rNDF concentration increased. There was a treatment × month interaction for S intake (P < 0.01), explained by steers fed 3.5 or 11.4% rNDF increasing S intake each month whereas the middle rNDF inclusions had similar S intake between months 1 and 2 and increased in month 3. Ruminal H2S concentrations and ruminal fluid pH were measured at 6 h postfeeding on d 7, 14, 21, 29, and 84. Ruminal pH increased linearly (P < 0.01; 5.48, 5.61, 5.71, 5.74, and 5.80 ± 0.041 for 3.5, 5.7, 7.9, 10.1, and 11.4% rNDF, respectively) and ruminal H2S concentrations decreased linearly (P < 0.01; 1.00, 0.86, 0.76, 0.70, and 0.62 ± 0.037 g/m3 for 3.5, 5.7, 7.9, 10.1, and 11.4% rNDF, respectively) as rNDF inclusion increased. Using mixed model regression analysis, ruminal pH had a strong negative relationship with ruminal H2S concentrations (β = –0.63; P < 0.01). Under conditions of this study, increasing roughage did not affect cattle gains but helped maintain greater ruminal pH and decreased H2S concentration, suggesting that this dietary strategy may lessen the risk of S toxicity in feedlot cattle.