Forage evaluation in ruminant nutrition by D I Givens; et al

By D I Givens; et al

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However, as systems of animal production become more sophisticated, with greater emphasis on end-product quality to meet the demands of the consumer, such systems have been shown to be lacking in several respects, and it is likely that these will need to be replaced. Indeed, there is already debate as to how such systems should be refined, given the aim of improving the predictability of animal response whilst avoiding unnecessary complication. However, there is no consensus on how alternative systems of feed evaluation should be constructed and, given that most national funding agencies seem to be no longer interested, all future initiatives are likely to come from those actively working in the field.

There have been many instances where these have been shown to be inadequate, use of grass-silage-derived relationships to evaluate the energy component of whole-crop wheat or maize silages or even fresh grass being suitable examples. But it is the almost uncontrolled use of NIRS to estimate biologically important components, such as ERDP, DUP and FME, which is of greatest concern, with highly questionable databases of in vitro-derived information being used with scant regard to the lack of any validation with in vivo events.

Indeed, the gut utilizes significant amounts of arterial glucose and, apart from those few instances where small-intestinal starch digestion may be quantitatively important, the gut as a whole is a net utilizer, rather than a net provider, of glucose. In contrast, ruminally derived acetate is largely unchanged by hepatic metabolism and may be augmented by endogenous acetate production in the liver. The posthepatic supply of acetate to peripheral tissues constitutes a major part of the total energy available to the animal and may be either oxidized to produce ATP or used as a substrate in the production of long-chain fatty acids (see following section).

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