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Effects of Combining Feed Grade Urea and a Slow-release Urea Product on Performance, Dietary Energetics and Carcass Characteristics of Feedlot Lambs Fed Finishing Diets with Different Starch to Acid Detergent Fiber Ratios.


Recent findings have shown that microbial nitrogen flow and digestible energy of diets are increased when urea is combined with a slow-release urea (SRU) in diets with a starch to acid detergent fibre ratio (S:F) 4:1. This affect is attributable to enhanced synchrony between ruminal N availability for microbial growth and carbohydrate degradation. To verify the magnitude of this effects on lamb performance, an experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of combining urea and a SRU in diets containing S:F ratios of 3:1, 4:1, or 5:1 on performance, dietary energetics and carcass characteristics of finishing lambs. For that, 40 Pelibuey×Katahdin lambs (36.65±3 kg) were assigned to one of five weight groupings in 20 pens (5 repetition/treatments). The S:F ratio in the diet was manipulated by partially replacing the corn grain and dried distiller's grain with solubles by forage (wheat straw) and soybean meal to reach S:F ratios of 3:1, 4:1 or 5:1. An additional treatment of 4:1 S:F ratio with 0.8% urea as the sole source of non-protein nitrogen was used as a reference for comparing the effect of urea combination vs. conventional urea at the same S:F ratio. There were no treatment effects on dry matter intake (DMI). Compared the urea combination vs urea at the same S:F ratio, urea combination increased (p<0.01) average daily gain (ADG, 18.3%), gain for feed (G:F, 9.5%), and apparent energy retention per unit DMI (8.2%). Irrespective of the S:F ratio, the urea combination improved the observed-to-expected dietary ratio and apparent retention per unit DMI was maximal (quadratic effect, p≤0.03) at an S:F ratio of 4:1, while the conventional urea treatment did not modify the observed-to-expected net energy ratio nor the apparent retention per unit DMI at 4:1 S:F ratio. Urea combination group tended (3.8%, p = 0.08) to have heavier carcasses with no effects on the rest of carcass characteristics. As S:F ratio increased, ADG, G:F, dietary net energy, carcass weight, dressing percentage and longissimus thoracis (LM) area increased linearly (p≤0.02). Combining urea and a slow-release urea product results in positive effects on growth performance and dietary energetics, but the best responses are apparently observed when there is a certain proportion (S:F ratio = 4:1) of starch to acid detergent fibre in the diet.

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