The University of Arizona

Evaluation of fecal indicators for assessing energy and nitrogen status of cattle and goats.

G. Nunez-Hernandez, J.L. Holechek, D. Arthun, A. Tembo, J.D. Wallace, M.L. Galyean, M. Cardenas, R. Valdez


In vivo digestibility trials involving cattle (steers) and goats (wethers) fed shrub and nonshrub mixtures were conducted to evaluate the potential of fecal output, fecal nitrogen output, and fecal nitrogen percent for assessing diet intake, nitrogen balance, and digestibility. Two cattle digestion trials involving 8 feeds and 4 goat digestion trials involving 13 feeds were used to develop simple linear and multiple regression equations between fecal and diet characteristics. Crude protein percent (organic matter basis) of cattle diets ranged from 3.9 to 12.0%; that of goats ranged from 7.5 to 14.4%. Low-phenolic and high-phenolic shrubs were fed in separate diets to goats while cattle diets involved only low-phenolic shrubs. Fecal output of organic matter (percentage of body weight) was correlated (r2>0.80) with forage organic matter intake (percentage of body weight) for both cattle and goats when all feeds were included in the regression. Linear regression intercepts, but not slopes, differed (P<0.05) among cattle and goats. Multiple regression equations did not improve evaluation of forage intake over simple linear equations using fecal output. Fecal nitrogen output (g N/kg BW) was associated more closely with nitrogen balance (g N/kg BW) than other fecal indicators. Further, fecal N output was best associated with nitrogen balance for both cattle and goats (r2 = 0.64, 73, respectively) when used in multiple regression equations. Multiple regression equations showed potential for evaluating nitrogen intake (g N/kg BW) of both cattle and goats, (R2 = 0.91, 0.87, respectively). Although it is doubtful that our equations have broad applications, our approach might be useful if specific equations were developed for individual range types.


energy metabolism;wethers;excretion;Sphaeralcea coccinea;nitrogen metabolism;Atriplex canescens;estimation;feces composition;Croton;steers;digestibility;shrubs;goats;nutritive value;quality;Cercocarpus montanus;New Mexico;beef cattle;forage;feed intake

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