U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



J. Anim. Sci. 2014.92:264–271; doi:10.2527/jas2013-6994


The optimal roughage concentration required in feedlot diets changes continuously for many reasons such as source, availability, price, and interaction with other ingredients in the diet. Wet distillers grains and solubles (WDGS) are common in finishing diets and they contain relatively high amounts of fiber compared with other grains they replace. Therefore, concentration of roughage could be altered when WDGS are included in feedlot diets. There has been very little data published regarding the effects of roughage concentration on energy metabolism and nutrient balance in beef steers. Therefore, the effects of roughage concentration in dryrolled corn (DRC)–based diets containing 25% WDGS were evaluated in 8 steers (BW = 362 ± 3.71 kg) using a replicated Latin square. Data were analyzed with the fixed effects of dietary treatment and period and random effects of square and steer within square were included in the model. Diets consisted of 25% WDGS and the balance being DRC and coarsely ground alfalfa hay (AH) replacing corn at 2% (AH-2), 6% (AH-6), 10% (AH-10), and 14% (AH-14) of dietary dry matter. As a proportion of GE intake, fecal energy loss increased linearly (P = 0.02), and DE decreased linearly (P = 0.02) as dietary level of AH increased. Methane energy loss, as a proportion of GE intake, increased linearly (P < 0.01) and ME decreased linearly (P < 0.01) as dietary concentration of AH increased. Heat production tended (P = 0.10) to decrease reaching a minimum of 10% AH and increased from 10 to 14% AH inclusion. Moreover, as a proportion of GE intake, retained energy (RE) decreased (P < 0.01) as AH level increased in the diet. Reasons for the decrease in RE are 1) the increase in fecal energy loss that is associated with decreased ruminal digestibility of NDF when AH replaced DRC and the shift in ruminal VFA produced, 2) the decreased energy available for animal retention when NDF increased linearly as AH increased in the diet, and 3) the methane and heat energy associated with digestion of the fibrous portion of the AH. Neutral detergent fiber and OM excretion also increased linearly (P < 0.01) with increasing AH in the diet. The increased NDF and OM excretion were likely caused by the difference in digestibility of AH and DRC.