Past and Present Definitions of the Energy and Protein Requirements of Ruminants

  • Corbett, J.L. (Animal Science, University of New England) ;
  • Freer, M. (CSIRO Plant Industry)
  • Published : 2003.04.01


The genesis of methods for defining the nutritional value of feeds and the nutrient requirements of animals, and their development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe and the USA are outlined. Current energy and protein feeding systems for ruminants are described. Particular reference is made to the Australian systems which are applicable to grazing animals as well as to those given prepared feeds, and enable the effective nutritional management of a imals at pasture by means of the decision support tool GrazFeed. The scheme for predicting intakes by cattle and sheep from pastures allows for the effects of selective grazing on the composition of the feed eaten, and for reduction in herbage intake when a supplementary feed is consumed. For herbage of any given concentration of metabolizable energy (ME) in the feed dry matter the changes with season of year in the net efficiency of use of the ME for growth and fattening and in the yield of microbial crude protein, g/MJ ME, which both vary with latitude, are defined. An equation to predict the energy requirements for maintenance (MEm) of both cattle and sheep includes predictions of the additional energy costs incurred by grazing compared with housed animals and the cost, if any, of cold stress. The equation allows for the change in MEm with feed intake. A flexible procedure predicts the composition of liveweight gain made by any given breed or sex of cattle and sheep at any stage of growth, and the variation with rate of gain. Protein requirements for maintenance, production including wool growth, and reproduction, are related to the quantities of microbial true protein and undegraded dietary protein truly digested in the small intestine.


Cattle;Sheep;Nutrient Requirements;Energy;Protein;Feed Value;Feeding System


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