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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Variability among Animals and Incubation Protocols for Ruminant In Situ Degradation Studies with Tropical Feeds

Assuncao, Amanda de Souza; da Silva, Tadeu Eder; Quirino, Daiana; Franco, Marcia de Oliveira; Detmann, Edenio


Simple Summary The knowledge on the nutritive value of feeds is essential to feed animals with adequate diets and to optimize production with minimal environment impact. In situ degradation is an important tool for nutritionists because it is a reliable, cheap, and fast way to assess information on feed digestion in ruminants. However, the lack of standards procedures for in situ trials with cattle in the tropics may compromise the reliability of information obtained from those studies. Thus, we aimed to generate useful information for animal scientists on how to perform that kind of study using adequate and minimal resources yet keeping accuracy to interpret feed characteristics. Our findings indicated an important variation among animals on the estimates of the rumen degradation rate of feeds, and taking into account that variation can allow for a more adequate comparison among feeds. On the other hand, we also found that an in situ trial cannot be performed using fewer than three animals, otherwise the risk of obtained biased and imprecise information increases. Minimum sets of incubation times were defined and evaluated. They can be used to decrease the costs and the labor when tropical feeds are evaluated through in situ trials with cattle. Our objectives were to evaluate the variability among animals regarding to the degradation rate of the potentially degradable fraction of dry matter, crude protein, and neutral detergent fiber, as well as to establish the minimum number of animals and provide a standardized design of sampling times for in situ ruminal degradation assays of tropical feeds with cattle. Seven feeds were evaluated, four concentrates and three forages. The incubations were performed using five rumen-cannulated Nellore heifers (328 +/- 9.8 kg of body weight). The complete sets of incubation sampling times encompassed 16 time points for forage samples (0-240 h) and 13 time points for concentrate samples (0-144 h). The profiles were adjusted using both fixed and mixed model approaches. When the variation among animals on the degradation rate was considered using the mixed model approach, the precision of the adjusted degradation profiles was increased. Moreover, the utilization of a low number of animals increases the probability to obtain biased estimates of degradation rate and increased random variances. A minimum of three animals is recommended for in situ trials with cattle. Minimum designs of sampling times regarding number and position of incubation times were proposed, discussed, and recommended to assess the dynamics of tropical feed degradation.


degradation rate; non-linear mixed models; rumen dynamics

Published in

2022, Volume: 12, number: 15, article number: 1901Publisher: MDPI

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science

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