Two studies were conducted to evaluate effects of wet distillers grains with solubles (WDG) and dietary concentration of alfalfa hay (AH) on performance of finishing beef cattle and in vitro fermentation. In both studies, 7 treatments were arranged in a 2 × 3 + 1 factorial; factors were dietary concentrations (DM basis) of WDG (15 or 30%) and AH (7.5, 10, or 12.5%) plus a non-WDG control diet that contained 10% AH. In Exp. 1, 224 beef steers were used in a randomized complete block (initial BW 342 kg ± 9.03) finishing trial. No WDG × AH interactions were observed (P > 0.12). There were no differences among treatments in final shrunk BW or ADG (P > 0.15), and DMI did not differ with WDG concentration for the overall feeding period (P = 0.38). Increasing dietary AH concentration tended (P < 0.079) to linearly increase DMI, and linearly decreased (P < 0.05) G:F and calculated dietary NEm and NEg concentrations. Carcasses from cattle fed 15% WDG had greater yield grades (P = 0.014), with tendencies for greater 12th-rib fat (P = 0.054) and marbling score (P = 0.053) than those from cattle fed 30% WDG. There were no differences among treatments (P > 0.15) in HCW, dressing percent, LM area, KPH, proportions of cattle grading USDA Choice, and incidence of liver abscesses. In Exp. 2, ruminal fluid was collected from 2 ruminally cannulated Jersey steers adapted to a 60% concentrate diet to evaluate in vitro gas production kinetics, H 2S production, IVDMD, and VFA. Relative to the control substrate, including WDG in substrates increased (P < 0.01) H 2S production and decreased total gas production (P = 0.01) and rate of gas production (P = 0.03). Increasing substrate WDG from 15 to 30% increased (P < 0.05) H 2S production and decreased (P < 0.001) total gas production, with a tendency (P = 0.073) to decrease IVDMD and fractional rate of gas production (P = 0.063). Treatments did not significantly affect (P > 0.09) molar proportions or total concentration of VFA. Results indicate that including 15 or 30% WDG in steam-flaked cornbased diets did not result in major changes in feedlot performance or carcass characteristics, but increasing AH concentration from 7.5 to 12.5% in diets containing WDG decreased G:F. Including WDG in substrates decreased rate and extent of gas production and increased H 2S production. Changes in various measures of in vitro fermentation associated with AH concentrations were not large.
- Beef cattle
- Distillers grains with solubles
- In vitro dry matter disappearance