Predicting Forage Nutritive Value Using an In Vitro Gas Production Technique and Dry Matter Intake of Grazing Animals Using n-Alkanes



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In the first experiment, forage samples (n = 39) were collected during 4 years (2006 ? 2009) from pastures grazed by Santa Gertrudis cattle at the King Ranch, TX. The in vitro gas production technique (IVGP) was performed to understand the pattern of fermentation parameters of the forage and obtain fractional digestion rate (kd) values to predict total digestible nutrients (TDN). The best nonlinear model to describe the IVGP values of the forages was the two-pool logistic equation. The passage rate (kp) of 4%/h was used.. The kp predicted by the Large Nutrient Ruminant System (LNRS) model was 3.66%/h. The average TDN was 55.9% compared to 53.8% using a theoretical equation. In the second experiment, Brahman bulls (n = 16) grazed Coastal bermudagrass pastures [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] and stocked at a moderate to low grazing pressure. Three periods of fecal collections were made within each period. Bulls were individually fed at 0700 and 1900 h of 400 g of corn gluten pellets containing C32 n-alkanes. Each period was divided in 2 sub periods in which fecal samples were collected 4 times a day (0700, 1100, 1500 and 1900 h). N-alkanes in the forage and feces were determined using gas chromatography. In the third experiment, four methods were used to estimate dry matter intake (DMI): C31 or C33 with or without adjustment for forage C32 (C31_0 and C33_0, respectively). There was a difference between morning (0700 and 1100 h) and afternoon fecal collections (1500 and 1900 h) on the predicted DMI using C31 (P = 0.0010), C33 (P = 0.0001), C31_0 (P = 0.0010), or C33_0 (P < 0.0001). There was no difference in average daily gain (ADG) between low and high residual feed intake (RFI) (P = 0.5709). The nonparametric analysis indicated that preranking animals for efficiency under confinement conditions does not guarantee (P < 0.0001) similar ranking under grazing conditions when using the alkane technique to determine forage DMI. In order to estimate DMI at least 5 d of fecal collection and 2 times a day of collection (0700 and 1500h) are needed to decrease the variability.