Crossbred beef steers fitted with a ruminal cannula were used to study the effects of silage type (BH 8895 corn or AF7401 sorghum) and level of inclusion (10 or 20%) in beef cattle finishing diets on digestibility of nutrients, ruminal kinetics, in vitro methane production, and feeding behavior. A 4 × 6 unbalanced Latin square design was used (6 steers; 363 ± 23 kg; 4 diets: corn silage [CS] or sorghum silage [SS], both at 10 or 20% inclusion, DM basis). Each period consisted of 14 d of adaptation and 7 d of collection. Steers were fed once daily at 1000 h. An additional study evaluated the ruminal degradability of intact ensiled sorghum grain ruminally incubated in 3 steers (547 ± 56 kg BW), using the same hybrids from the main study from 10 laboratory experimental silos. The GLIMMIX procedures of SAS were used for statistical analyses. Steers fed SS had greater NDF intake (P < 0.01) compared with the ones fed CS. The magnitude of the NDF intake change depended on the level of inclusion (P < 0.01), which was 6 and 16% for 10 and 20% inclusion, respectively. Regardless the level of inclusion, CS diets promoted greater (P ≤ 0.01) apparent total tract digestibility of nutrients evaluated (DM, OM, NDF, ADF, hemicellulose, and starch) compared with SS diets. Steers fed SS diets tended to chew 1.1 h/d more (P = 0.07) than steers fed CS diets. The level of inclusion increased (P = 0.02) the chewing time per day by 1.3 h. No major differences were observed in any of the ruminal pH and in vitro gas production variables evaluated for silage type and inclusion level (P ≥ 0.09). The CS-fed steers had 12% greater total VFA concentration and an 18.5% lower (P < 0.01) acetate-to-propionate ratio compared with SS-fed steers. The acetate-to-propionate ratio was 16% greater (P < 0.01) when steers were fed SS compared with when steers were fed CS. The CS samples were more extensively ruminally degraded (P < 0.01) than the SS samples. Greater (P < 0.01) NDF ruminal disappearance was observed in ruminal environments containing 20% silage compared with those containing 10% silage. After 96 h inside the rumen, intact ensiled sorghum grain degradability of DM reached only 51.7%. Replacing CS with SS in beef finishing diets (low roughage inclusion) requires adjustments to balance dietary energy. Sorghum material induced a desirable roughage effect in feeding behavior but also offered the potential for improved regarding fiber digestibility and intact grain ruminal degradability.
- Ruminal fermentation