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Asian-Australas J Anim Sci. 2018 Jun;31(6):859-863. doi: 10.5713/ajas.17.0425. Epub 2017 Nov 3.

Influence of dietary nonstructural carbohydrate concentration on growth performance and carcass characteristics of Holstein steers.

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Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexicali 21386, México.
Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.



Since very little information exists about the topic; in this experiment we compare, in a long-term finishing program, the growth-performance responses and carcass characteristics of Holstein steers where non-structural carbohydrate concentration of the diet is reduced from 64% to 51% (dry matter basis).


Sixty Holstein steer calves (129±2.2 kg) were blocked by initial weight into five groups and randomly assigned within weight groupings to 10 pens. Calves were fed with a steam-flaked corn-based finishing diets containing 51% higher fiber (HF) or 64% lower fiber (LF) nonstructural carbohydrates. Non-structural carbohydrates concentrations were manipulated substituting dried distiller grain with solubles and alfalfa hay for flaked corn. Cattle were weighed every 112 days and at the end of the experiment (day 308) when the cattle were harvested and carcass characteristics were evaluated.


Steers fed the HF diet showed improvement (8.8%) in average daily gain (ADG) during the initial 112-d period. This effect was followed by a numerical trend for greater ADG throughout the remainder of the study so that overall ADG tended to be greater (4.9%, p = 0.06) for the HF than for LF. There were no treatment effects on dry matter intake. Gain efficiency and estimated dietary net energy (NE) were greater 8.3% and 5.2%, respectively for HF during the initial 112-d period. Overall (308-d) gain efficiency and estimated dietary NE were similar for both dietary treatments. However, due to differences in tabular dietary NE, the ratio of observed:expected dietary NE tended to be greater (4.1%, p = 0.06) for the HF vs LF diet. There were no treatment effects on carcass characteristics except for a tendency toward a slightly greater (0.5%, p = 0.09) estimated carcass yield.


Reducing the non-structural carbohydrate concentration of a conventional steam-flaked corn-based growing finishing diet for Holstein steers can effectively enhance growth performance, particularly during the early growing and late finishing phases.


Carcass; Diet Energy Density; Finishing; Holstein; Performance

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