Two metabolism trials were conducted with 12 yearling crossbred wethers per trial (34 and 38 kg for trials 1 and 2, respectively). The wethers, equipped with ruminal, abomasal and ileal cannulae, were randomly allotted for each trial to the following treatments: 1) hay alone or hay supplemented with 2) .9% urea, 3) 1% urea and 6.5% molasses or 4) 1% urea and 5.2% corn. Two digestive flow markers were used: Cr2O3 powder and Co-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (Co-EDTA). Urea and Co-EDTA were infused continuously into the rumen via cannula. Daily dry matter (DM) intake averaged 517 g. Urea supplementation improved N retention (P less than .01). Apparent digestibility of DM, acid detergent fiber (ADF) and energy was not affected by treatment. Urea and carbohydrate supplementation increased ruminal propionic acid molar proportions (P less than .05). Apparent ruminal DM digestion accounted for 41% of the total DM degraded, whereas 77.4% of the digestible ADF was degraded in the rumen. Urea supplementation increased ADF digestion in the large intestine (P less than .01). Urea and carbohydrate supplementation resulted in a stepwise increase in N flowing with the liquid phase at the abomasum. Mean retention times of the solid and liquid phases of digestive contents were similar across treatments. Overall, benefits of supplementation of poor-quality fescue hay diets by small amounts of urea and readily available carbohydrates remain questionable for sheep fed at a fixed level of intake below maintenance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology