Effect of trace minerals and starch on digestibility and rumen fermentation in diets for dairy heifers

F. Pino, A. J. Heinrichs

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38 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of different forms of trace minerals (TM) and the use of different starch levels in dairy heifer diets on rumen fermentation and digestibility. Eight rumen cannulated dairy heifers (15.4 ± 0.8 mo of age and 438.31 ± 18.08 kg of body weight) were subjected to a split-plot, 4 × 4 Latin square design with 19-d periods: 15 d of adaptation and 4 d of sampling. The whole-plot factor was type of TM; organic as proteinates (OTM) or inorganic sulfates (ITM), and the subplot was starch level (3.54, 12.95, 22.25, and 31.73%). Total collection of feces and urine was completed on d 15 to 19 to determine digestibility and TM excretion. Rumen contents were sampled on d 18 to 19 at 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 22 h after feeding to measure pH and volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations. Plasma samples were collected to evaluate TM concentrations and enzymatic activity for ceruloplasmin, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. Starch level affected pH, individual VFA concentrations, and nutrient excretion. Trace mineral intake was lower for OTM compared with ITM. No effect of TM form on dry matter digestibility was detected, but as level of starch increased, diet dry matter digestibility increased. Rumen pH was lower for diets with OTM, which is consistent with higher total VFA production and butyrate proportion observed for heifers fed OTM diets. These variables may be explained by the higher bioavailability of OTM and faster utilization and fermentation by rumen microorganisms. Heifers that consumed ITM had higher moisture in feces and higher urine excretion, which increased total manure production. Total excretion of TM was not different by treatment. Blood plasma mineral concentration was not different between treatments except for Mn, which was higher for OTM. Enzymatic activity was not affected by treatments. Mineral intake was reduced and blood mineral levels were not different, suggesting enhanced absorption of OTM compared with ITM. In conclusion, based on rumen pH, VFA production, and plasma TM concentration, OTM may be more ruminally bioavailable and absorbed to a greater extent than ITM. Also, TM form affected fecal moisture and urine excretion, suggesting that ITM may stimulate water intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2797-2810
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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