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Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1961. Department of Animal Husbandry.


Copyright 1961, the author. Used by permission.


The purpose of this experiment deals with but a small portion of the broad realm of plant estrogen effects upon large animals.

The objectives were:

  1. To determine the effects of dehydrated alfalfa with low medium, or high estrogenic activity on the apparent digestibility of nutrients, liveweight gain, efficiency of gain, and carcass traits of fattening beef cattle.

  2. To determine the combined effects of the natural estrogens in dehydrated alfalfa with a synthetic estrogen, diethyl stilbestrol, upon the above mentioned traits.

The experiment utilized 42 Hereford steers.The steers were all of one brand and had been obtained as weanling calves from a ranch near North Platte, Nebraska, in October 1959.They had been wintered and summered on the University Beef Research Farm.During the summer the steers were used in pasture research.All steers were treated the same for one month prior to the start of the experiment.

Dehydrated alfalfa pellets containing three levels of estrogenic activity – 0, 122, or 245 ppm. Coumestrol, were fed. Four pounds of dehydrated alfalfa were fed as the protein supplement in these fattening rations which contained ground ear corn, dried beet pulp and dried molasses. The six treatments consisted of dehydrated alfalfa of three levels of estrogenic activity each fed with and without stilbestrol.

Two digestion trials were conducted employing the chromic oxide technique. The first trial commenced after the steers were on feed 60 days, and the second trial started 60 days after the first trial. In the first trial, steers fed low estrogen dehydrated alfalfa evidenced significantly higher apparent digestibility coefficients of dry matter and crude protein than the steers fed the medium or high estrogen dehydrated alfalfa.

Advisor: J. Matsushima