Journal of animal science

Feed intake, growth, and body and carcass attributes of feedlot steers supplemented with two levels of calcium nitrate or urea.

PMID 28046156


Nitrate supplementation has been shown to be effective in reducing enteric methane emission from ruminants, but there have been few large-scale studies assessing the effects of level of nitrate supplementation on feed intake, animal growth, or carcass and meat quality attributes of beef cattle. A feedlot study was conducted to assess the effects of supplementing 0.25 or 0.45% NPN in dietary DM as either urea (Ur) or calcium nitrate (CaN) on DMI, ADG, G:F, and carcass attributes of feedlot steers ( = 383). The levels of NPN inclusion were selected as those at which nitrate has previously achieved measurable mitigation of enteric methane. The higher level of NPN inclusion reduced ADG as did replacement of Ur with CaN ( < 0.01). A combined analysis of DMI for 139 steers with individual animal intake data and pen-average intakes for 244 bunk-fed steers showed a significant interaction between NPN source and level ( = 0.02) with steers on the high-CaN diet eating less than those on the other 3 diets ( < 0.001). Neither level nor NPN source significantly affected cattle G:F. There was a tendency ( = 0.05) for nitrate-supplemented cattle to have a slower rate of eating (g DMI/min) than Ur-supplemented cattle. When adjusted for BW, neither NPN source nor inclusion level affected cross-sectional area of the LM or fatness measured on the live animal. Similarly, there were no significant main effects of treatments on dressing percentage or fat depth or muscling attributes of the carcass after adjustment for HCW ( > 0.05). Analysis of composited meat samples showed no detectable nitrates or nitrosamines in raw or cooked meat, and the level of nitrate detected in meat from nitrate-supplemented cattle was no higher than for Ur-fed cattle ( > 0.05). We conclude that increasing NPN inclusion from 0.25 to 0.45% NPN in dietary DM and replacing Ur with CaN decreased ADG in feedlot cattle without improving G:F.