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Protein and Water Utilization in Beef Cattle Systems

Tyler J Spore, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Four experiments were conducted evaluating effects of protein supplementation in growing cattle diets, ensiling time on the rumen undegradable (RUP) content of corn silage, and the water footprint (WF) of beef production in Nebraska. Experiment 1 was a digestion study and treatments were urea included at 0%, 0.5%, 1.0%, or 1.5% of dietary dry matter (DM) in a silage diet. Experiment 2 examined the effects of ensiling on the RUP content of corn silage and its forage and grain components. In Exp. 3, cattle consumed a bromegrass-based diet containing 20% or 35% of DM as wet distillers grains with solubles (WDGS) and SoyPass replaced 0%, 30%, or 60% of the WDGS DM. In Exp. 4, the WF of beef production in Nebraska was evaluated using data collected from an experiment evaluating the effects of wintering cattle system on performance. In Exp. 1, intake and total tract digestibility of DM, organic matter, and fiber increased linearly as dietary urea increased (P < 0.05). In Exp. 2, the RUP content of the corn grain component of corn silage decreased from 43.7% of CP at harvest to 10.0% of CP after 96 d ensiling (quadratic, P < 0.01), and the RUP content of corn silage decreased from 32% to 17.1% of CP after 160 d. In Exp. 3, SoyPass substitution for WDGS tended to linearly decrease feed efficiency (P = 0.06) for the 35% protein supplement diet whereas feed efficiency was unaffected by SoyPass for the 20% protein supplement diet and was numerically greater when 60% of the WDGS was replaced. In Exp. 4, the WF of beef cattle production decreased by 30% for cows wintered on corn residue compared to native range and the total WF was 93% green water. Overall, results indicate supplementing RUP to cattle consuming forage-based diets and RDP to cattle consuming silage-based diets improves performance and digestion. Additionally, the WF of beef production in Nebraska is mostly green water and can be decreased by utilizing byproducts and residues.

Subject Area

Agriculture|Animal sciences|Food Science|Range management|Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Spore, Tyler J, "Protein and Water Utilization in Beef Cattle Systems" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28259000.