Effects of diet and stage of development on partitioning of nutrients between fat and lean deposition in steers

Nigel D. Scollan, M. S. Dhanoa, Eun J. Kim, J. M. Dawson, P. J. Buttery

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Abstract

This experiment investigated the effect of feeding grass silage alone or supplemented with additional energy and/or protein on the partitioning of nutrients between fat and lean deposition in cattle grown from approximately 140 to 550 kg. The distribution of total body fat between the main fat depots was also assessed. Ninety-two Hereford 5 Friesian steers (140±18.8 kg initial live weight) were allocated to one of four dietary treatments; grass silage offered either alone (diet S) or supplemented with fish meal (diet FM; 150 g/kg silage dry matter (DM) intake but offered at equal estimated metabolizable energy (ME) intake to silage) or forage-concentrate diets of silage and a barley/soya (80 : 20) concentrate at ratios of 70 : 30 or 30 : 70 on a DM basis (diets 30C and 70C, respectively). Eight animals were slaughtered at the start of the trial to determine initial carcass composition. Of the remaining 21 animals per diet, three were slaughtered at each of seven live weights ranging between 250 and 550 kg, at 50-kg intervals. Animals were given food individually and diets were offered ad libitum (except for FM) along with 100 g/ day of a commercial vitamin/mineral pre-mix. At slaughter, half carcasses were minced for the determination of fat and protein content and visceral fat depots, perirenal, mesenteric and omental were removed and weighed. The relationships between chemical composition and empty body weight (EBW) at slaughter were assessed using allometric equations (loge y = loge a + b loge EBW). The composition of the silage was 271.9 g/kg toluene DM with a total nitrogen and estimated ME of 26.5 g/kg DM and 11.8 MJ/kg DM, respectively. DM intakes increased (P <0.001) with increasing level of concentrate and this generated the expected differences in both energy and protein intake. Live-weight gains increased by proportionately about 0.1, 0.18 and 0.34 on the FM, 30C and 70C treatments, respectively, compared with the S alone. Carcass protein deposition (kg) was relatively linear across the slaughter weights 250 to 550 kg, except for the 70C treatment where the slope (shape or curvature parameter, b) was lower compared with S (P = 0.007). Carcass fat (kg) was similar between S and FM. However, at 350 kg EBW and above, the carcasses of animals given concentrate contained more fat (P <0.01) compared with those on silage. Carcass fat deposition (kg) showed significant curvature between 200 and 500 EBW (kg) and this was most pronounced for the concentrate treatments with the slopes of the 30C and 70C (P = 0.072, P = 0.003 respectively) differing from the silage. Similar responses were observed for the visceral fat depots. Feeding concentrates resulted in a lower proportion of the total fat being deposited as carcass fat (and hence more as non-carcass fat), proportions averaging 0.65 and 0.61 for S and 70C, respectively; P = 0.066). The proportion of mesenteric fat decreased substantially with increasing total fat (P <0.001). The relative contribution of intramuscular fat (g/kg total fat) in the longissimus dorsi muscle increased with total fat (P = 0.007) and this was particularly apparent for the S, FM and 30C and less so for 70C. It is concluded that good quality grass silage will support high levels of performance without the need for additional concentrate supplementation. The latter may contribute towards increased fat deposition within the animal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalAnimal Science
Volume76
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003

Keywords

  • carcass composition
  • cattle
  • growth
  • silage

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