The University of Arizona

Grazing steer fecal output dynamics on south Texas shrubland.

J.W. Stuth, R.K. Lyons


Combined with other information, fecal output appears to have potential use in models to predict forage intake. Better understanding of fecal output dynamics relative to forage availability could improve model estimates of animal performance. Field trials were conducted during 4 different periods to investigate the relationship between 1) declining forage mass or forage component availability and beef steer fecal output and between 2) browse consumption and available forage mass. Fecal output was estimated using the rare-earth marker ytterbium. Initial fecal output as a percentage of body weight was greatest in March (1.24%) and least in August (0.96%). Regression slopes were negatively correlated (-0.73) with initial forage mass. As indicated by regression slopes, fecal output declined most rapidly in March (slope = 0.57) and slowest in August (slope = 0.13). Expression of available forage mass as either daily grass allowance or daily grass leaf allowance, both as g dry matter/kg live weight, produced similar regression equation statistics. Development of regressions for individual pastures within trials did, however, improve equation statistics in all trials except August. Browse consumption was < 10% until daily grass allowance fell below 50 g/kg live weight then increased to between 53 and 64% below 25 g/kg live weight, but was not adequate to maintain fecal output. Apparent seasonal differences in fecal output suggest lower forage intake (29%) in August compared to March. Fecal output was not affected by daily grass allowance above 100 g. Fecal output declined to below 0.6% of body weight below 100 g daily grass allowance. Data are interpreted to suggest that different fecal output curves and/or adjustment factors may be needed to account for season and initial forage mass.


digestibility markers;ytterbium;organic matter;leaves;stems;prediction;equations;feces composition;forbs;steers;digestibility;crude protein;Texas;grasses;dry matter

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