Utilizing sugar beets in steer backgrounding, sheep nutrient metabolism, and silage
McGregor, Ian Robert
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Non-harvested sugar beets are an abundant yet underutilized feedstuff for producers in Montana and Northern Plains region. A performance and metabolism study were performed to observe the effects of sugar beets on steer backgrounding performance, sheep nutrient metabolism, and rumen fermentation characteristics. Both experiments utilized four dietary treatments where sugar beets replaced 0% (0SB), 15% (15SB), 30% (30SB), and 45% (45SB) of barley on a dry matter (DM) basis. Forty eight Angus steers were used in a completely randomized design to conduct the 50 d performance study. Average daily gain (ADG), feed efficiency (G:F), and dry matter intake (DMI) weren't affected by treatment (P > or = 0.06). A 4 x 4 replicated Latin Square design was used to observe the effects of increasing dietary inclusion of sugar beets on nutrient metabolism and rumen fermentation characteristics of eight growing wethers. Crude fiber, DM, and nitrogen (N) digestibility weren't affected by treatment (P > or = 0.10), while N balance demonstrated a cubic effect (P = 0.04). Butyrate concentration demonstrated a treatment x time effect (P = 0.01), where butyrate concentrations increased with increasing sugar beets in the diet at 1300. The acetate to propionate ratio demonstrated a linear increase (P = 0.03) with increasing sugar beets in the diet. Overall, we concluded that sugar beets can be included up to 45% of the diet without inducing any deleterious effects on steer performance or sheep nutrient metabolism. However, the moisture content of sugar beets creates difficulty when storing this feedstuff, and we hypothesized that sugar beets may ensile well with other feedstuffs. Therefore, we carried out a study to test this hypothesis using a 3 x 2 factorial design. Treatments were hay (H), or sugar beets mixed with either hay (SBH) or soybean meal (SB) were ensiled at a rate of 50:50 (as fed) with or without a mold inhibitor. The pH of all treatments fell below 5.0 before d 90 (P < 0.01). All treatments increased in crude fiber and crude protein over time (P < or = 0.03). With these results, we conclude that sugar beets can be effectively ensiled with hay or soybean meal.