NUTRITION:Original Research| Volume 39, ISSUE 2, P56-68, April 2023

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Effects of dietary protein concentration and degradability on performance, carcass characteristics, net energy utilization, and metabolizable protein balance of finishing beef heifers receiving 0 or 400 mg of ractopamine hydrochloride

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      This study evaluated the effects of feeding beef cattle finishing diets with greater than 14.0% dietary CP and with or without ractopamine hydrochloride (RH) on growth performance, carcass merit, net energy utilization, and metabolizable protein balance.

      Materials and Methods

      Heifers (n = 525) were assigned to 48 pens in a generalized complete block design, and pens of cattle were assigned randomly to 0 or 400 mg of RH/animal per day and 3 CP treatments in a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement (n = 8 pens/treatment) fed for 35 d before slaughter. Dietary protein treatments were steamflaked corn-based diets containing 13.9% CP, 8.9% RDP, and 5.1% RUP (CON); 20.9% CP, 14.4% RDP, and 6.5% RUP (High RDP); or 20.9% CP, 9.7% RDP, and 11.2% RUP (High RUP) on a DM basis.

      Results and Discussion

      No RH × CP interactions were observed. Final BW, ADG, water disappearance, DMI, and G:F were not different among CP treatments. Dressing percentage was greater for cattle fed High RDP than for those fed High RUP, but other carcass outcomes did not differ. The MP balance was greatest for High RUP, intermediate for High RDP, and least for CON. Cattle receiving 400 mg of RH had greater final BW, ADG, G:F, and hot carcass weight. The LM area was greater and KPH was less for 400 versus 0 mg of RH. Carcass-adjusted final BW, ADG, and G:F were greater for cattle consuming 400 mg of RH. Cattle fed 400 mg of RH had greater performance-adjusted and observed:expected NEm and NEg. The MP balance was less for 400 versus 0 mg of RH. Dietary CP requirements were greater for cattle fed 400 compared with 0 mg of RH but did not exceed the CP supplied by CON, High RDP, or High RUP.

      Implications and Applications

      Feeding greater than 14.0% CP does not negatively affect performance or carcass characteristics of finishing cattle, and the absence of interactions between CP and RH suggests that RH does not increase CP requirements above those provided in a typical finishing cattle diet.

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