Differences between Yaks and Qaidam Cattle in Digestibilities of Nutrients and Ruminal Concentration of Volatile Fatty Acids Are not Dependent on Feed Level

Hu Liu, Daozhicairang Wu, Abraham Allan Degen, Lizhuang Hao, Shuiyan Gan, Hongshan Liu, Xuliang Cao, Jianwei Zhou, Ruijun Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP) is characterized by highly fluctuating seasonal pastures. Yaks (Bos grunniens) graze at higher altitudes than Qaidam cattle (Bos taurus), but the two bovine species co-graze in their overlapping ranges. We hypothesized that yaks would digest nutrients to a greater extent and utilize energy more efficiently than cattle at low dietary intakes, but the difference between bovine species would not be apparent at high intakes. To test this hypothesis, six yaks (203 ± 6.0 kg) and six Qaidam cattle (214 ± 9.0 kg), all 3.5-year-old castrated males, were used in two concurrent 4 × 4 Latin square designs with two extra steers of each species in each period. The digestibilities of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, ether extract, neutral and acid detergent fiber were greater (p < 0.05) in yaks than in cattle and decreased linearly (p < 0.05) when feed level (FL) increased. The average daily gain (ADG), the ratios of digestible energy (DE) to gross energy and metabolizable energy (ME) to DE, and ruminal total volatile fatty acids and ammonia-N concentrations were greater (p < 0.001) in yaks than in cattle and increased linearly (p < 0.001) when FL increased. Based on the regression equations of ADG on ME intake, the daily ME requirement for maintenance in yaks was 0.53 MJ BW−0.75 d−1, which was lesser (p < 0.05) than the 0.62 MJ BW−0.75 d−1 in cattle. We concluded that: (1) when differences between breeds emerged, the differences existed for all FLs; (2) maintenance energy requirement was lesser and ADG was greater in yaks than in cattle; (3) the digestibilities of nutrients were greater in yaks than in cattle when consuming only oat hay pellets. These findings indicate that yaks adapt to fluctuating dietary intakes in harsh environments by having a low energy requirement and high digestibility of nutrients, independent of the FL.

Original languageEnglish
Article number405
JournalFermentation
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Qaidam cattle
  • apparent digestibilities
  • average daily gain
  • energy requirement for maintenance
  • feed level
  • yaks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science

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