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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Fibrolytic enzyme treatment of barley grain and source of forage in high-grain diets fed to growing cattle.

We conducted a study to determine the effects of treating barley grain with a fibrolytic enzyme mixture on chewing activities, ruminal fermentation, and total tract digestibility in cattle. We also investigated the potential benefits of using barley straw rather than barley silage as a roughage source in high-grain diets for feedlot cattle. Steers were given ad libitum access to one of four diets that consisted of 95% barley-based concentrate and 5% forage (DM basis). The concentrate was either control or enzyme-treated, and the forage was either barley silage or barley straw. Applying the enzyme mixture onto the barley lowered the concentrations of dietary ADF and NDF. However, it is not certain when this fiber hydrolysis occurred relative to feed consumption because the fiber analyses were conducted after the study was completed. Enzyme treatment of barley increased total tract dietary ADF digestibility by 28% (P<.05). Acetate-to-propionate ratio tended to decrease, which suggests that enzymes may have increased ruminal starch digestion as a result of enhanced digestion of barley hulls. Replacing silage with straw increased ADF intake (P<.05) and resulted in 1-h/d increase in rumination time (P<.05). Even though there was no effect of diet on ruminal pH, replacing silage with straw increased ruminal acetate, as a percentage of total VFA, and total tract ADF digestion (P<.01). This study demonstrates that using a fibrolytic enzyme mixture in high-grain diets that contain mainly barley grain can improve fiber digestion and grain utilization, but the mode of action is unclear. Straw can be used rather than silage to increase the effective fiber content of a high-grain feedlot diet.[1]


  1. Fibrolytic enzyme treatment of barley grain and source of forage in high-grain diets fed to growing cattle. Krause, M., Beauchemin, K.A., Rode, L.M., Farr, B.I., Nørgaard, P. J. Anim. Sci. (1998) [Pubmed]
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