Effects of protein concentration and source on nutrient digestibility by mature steers limit-fed high-concentrate diets

L. J. Driedger, S. C. Loerch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Five ruminally fistulated 3-yr-old mature Holstein steers (average BW 691 ± 23 kg) were used in a 5 × 5 Latin square experiment with a 2 × 2 + 1 factorial arrangement of treatments. Effects of protein concentration and protein source on nutrient digestibility, excretion of DM and fecal N, ruminal fluid volume and dilution rate, ruminal characteristics, and in situ DM disappearance of whole shelled corn, ground corn, and orchardgrass hay were measured in steers limit-fed high-concentrate diets at 1.5% of BW. A negative control basal diet (NC; 9% CP) was supplemented to achieve either 11 or 14% CP; supplemental CP was either from soybean meal (11 and 14% SBM) or a 50:50 ratio of CP from urea and soybean meal (11 and 14% U). Dry matter and OM digestibilities were 5% greater (P < .07) for steers fed the SBM diets than for those fed the U diets. Starch digestibility did not differ (P > .10) among steers fed any of the diets. Nitrogen source did not affect (P > .10) apparent N digestibility or fecal N excretion; however, steers fed the NC diet had the lowest (P < .10) apparent N digestibility compared with those fed all other diets. Ruminal fluid volume was lower (P < .06) when steers were fed the NC diet compared with all other diets; there were no differences (P > .74) among diets for ruminai fluid dilution rate. In general, ruminal ammonia N and VFA molar proportions were not affected by protein source or concentration. Although CP concentration affected (P < .06) in situ DM disappearance of ground corn, CP concentration did not (P > .48) affect total tract digestion of DM or OM. This indicates that CP concentration may have affected site of digestion, but not extent of digestion. When mature ruminants were limit-fed a corn-based diet to meet primarily a maintenance function, protein source and concentration had little effect on measures of nutrient digestion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-966
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Digestibility
  • Grain
  • Protein
  • Restricted feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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