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South African Journal of Animal Science

Print version ISSN 0375-1589

Abstract

LEEUW, K-J.; SIEBRITS, F.K.; HENNING, P.H.  and  MEISSNER, H.H.. Effect of Megasphaera elsdenii NCIMB 41125 drenching on health and performance of steers fed high and low roughage diets in the feedlot. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2009, vol.39, n.4, pp. 337-348. ISSN 0375-1589.

Lactate utilising bacteria (LUB) assist in reducing the risk of ruminal lactate acidosis when high concentrate diets are fed to feedlot cattle. Ruminal lactate acidosis can lead to lower animal performance and morbidity. Preliminary studies suggested that the strain, Megasphaera elsdenii (M.e.) NCIMB 41125, is a particularly potent LUB. The potential of M.e.NCIMB 41125 to improve the health and performance of feedlot cattle was investigated. Four hundred and forty eight Bonsmara steers (ca. 240 kg) were used in a 100-day feeding trial. Half the steers received at processing 200 mL M.e.NCIMB 41125 per os (LY) and the other half no LUB (LN). The diets in each of these treatments were divided into a low roughage (2%) (RL) and high roughage (8%) (RH) diet. The effects of LY vs. LN, RL vs. RH as main effects and their respective interactions (LYRL, LYRH, LNRL & LNRH) were compared in terms of morbidity, feedlot performance and carcass characteristics. The steers were weighed at two week intervals, feed was offered daily and the orts were removed weekly from each pen. The faecal consistency score and incidence of morbidity were recorded. At slaughter, carcass data were collected and the health status of the liver and rumen epithelium was assessed. Steers dosed with M.e.NCIMB 41125 had a 5.6% better average daily gain (ADG) during weeks 3 - 5 (2.09 kg/day vs. 1.98 kg/day for LY and LN, respectively). Feed conversion ratio (FCR, Weeks 1 - 13) was better for the steers fed the RL than the RH treatment (4.72 kg/kg vs. 4.99 kg/kg for RL and RH, respectively). Steers on the LNRH treatment during weeks 3 - 5 used more feed per kg gain than steers on the other treatments (5.39 kg/kg for LNRH vs. 4.74 kg/kg and 4.72 kg/kg for LYRL and LNRL, respectively). More steers (21) on the LNRL treatment were treated for morbidity than on the other treatments (8, 7 and 5 for LYRL, LYRH and LNRH, respectively). In general, animal performance was not improved by dosing with M.e.NCIMB 41125, but since ADG was improved in the immediate post-adaptation phase (weeks 3 - 5) and morbidity levels were lower on the low roughage diet, dosing of steers on low roughage, lactate acidosis-prone, diets with M.e.NCIMB 41125 should prove useful.

Keywords : Beef cattle; lactic acid utilising bacteria; acidosis; morbidity.

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