The effects of an artificial sweetener on health and performance of feedlot cattle
McMeniman, Joseph P.
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Two experiments were conducted at the Texas Tech University Burnett Center in New Deal, TX to examine the effects of a dietary sweetener (Sucram C-150; Prince Agri Products, Quincy, IL) on health, performance and dietary preference of feedlot cattle. In Exp. 1, two hundred steer and bull calves (British x Continental; average BW = 190.4 kg) were shipped 1,588 km from an order buyer facility in West Point, MS. On arrival, cattle were weighed and processed and assigned randomly to one of two treatments (eight pens per treatment) during a 60-d receiving period: 1) Control (CON) = a 65% concentrate receiving diet; or 2) Sucram C-150 (SUC) = a 65% concentrate receiving diet with 200 mg/kg (DM basis) of Sucram C-150 artificial sweetener. Diets were changed to 75% concentrate on d 29 to 56. Following processing, cattle were moved to their assigned pens and fed their respective diets ad libitum once daily at 0800. Cattle were observed daily for symptoms of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and treated as needed when their rectal temperature was > 39.7oC. Feeding SUC did not affect overall (P > 0.15) DMI at any time during the 60-d study; however, between d 29 to 56 there was a trend (P = 0.10) for increased DMI by cattle consuming SUC (5.71 vs. 6.02 kg/d for CON and SUC, respectively). From d 0 to 28 and d 0 to 56 there was a trend (P = 0.11 and 0.12, respectively) for increased daily gain by steers fed SUC. Gain efficiency was not affected by treatment, except between d 0 to 28 of the study, when SUC increased gain efficiency (P = 0.01). No differences were detected (P > 0.10) for overall morbidity (cattle treated at least once for BRD) between the two treatments (59.6 and 58.0% for CON and SUC, respectively); however, feeding SUC decreased (P = 0.02) the proportion of morbid animals requiring two antibiotic treatments (52.6 and 41.0% for CON and SUC, respectively) and tended (P = 0.10) to decrease the proportion of cattle treated twice that needed additional treatments. During the finishing phase, 180 steers from the receiving period were assigned (nine pens per treatment) to the following treatments: 1) CON receiving/CON finishing; 2) CON receiving/SUC finishing; 3) SUC receiving/CON finishing; 4) SUC receiving/SUC finishing. Diets fed ad libitum once daily at 0800 were 82% concentrate for the first 14-d, and were then switched to a final 90% concentrate diet for the remainder of the experiment. The SUC diets contained 200 mg/kg (DM Basis) of Sucram C-150. Receiving (R) and finishing (F) period main effect means and their interactions (R x F) were analyzed. Over the entire F period, there was a tendency (P = 0.12) for overall ADG (d 0 to end; days on feed ranged from 154 to 203) to be increased by feeding SUC. This effect was, however, not dramatic, and carcass-adjusted gain did not differ among treatments. Daily DMI was affected by the R x F interaction (P ¡Ü 0.09) for all periods of the finishing phase, except from d 0 to 28. This interaction was the result of greater DMI by cattle fed SUC in both the R and F periods than by cattle in the other three treatment groups. Decreased DMI by cattle in the SUC receiving/CON finishing treatment also contributed to this interaction. Performance-based dietary NEm and NEg concentrations were computed from NRC (1996) equations and resulting values did not differ greatly: 2.27, 2.28, 2.26, and 2.25 Mcal of NEm/kg of DM and 1.58, 1.59, 1.57, and 1.56 Mcal of NEg/kg of DM, respectively for CON/CON, CON/SUC, SUC/CON, SUC/SUC treatments respectively. In general, changes in carcass characteristics were minor. Marbling score was increased (P = 0.07) for cattle fed the control diet vs. those fed Sucram C-150 during the R period, although these slight changes did not significantly change quality grade distribution. An R x F interaction was detected for longissimus muscle (LM) area (P = 0.10) and USDA yield grade (P = 0.09), reflecting greater LM area and yield grade for CON/SUC vs. CON/CON and for SUC/CON vs. the SUC/SUC. In Exp. 2, 12 steers (British and Continental breeding; average BW = 378.6 kg) were used in a simultaneously replicated 3 x 3 Latin square dietary preference test. Each Latin square consisted of three pens (two steers per pen) and three time periods. Each of the three feeding periods of the Latin square consisted of a 5-d adaptation period followed by a 5-d data collection period, giving a total time for the experiment of 30-d. Pens had 2.4 m of linear bunk space with a wooden bunk divider affixed halfway along the bunk, providing 1.2 m of linear bunk space on either side of the divider. Dietary treatments consisted of: 1) Control = a 77.5 % concentrate diet delivered daily on both sides of the divider; 2) Sucram = a 77.5 % concentrate diet supplemented with 200 mg/kg DM of Sucram C-150 delivered daily on both sides of the bunk divider; and 3) Choice = a 77.5 % concentrate diet supplemented with or without 200 mg/kg DM of Sucram C-150 delivered daily on either side of the bunk divider. Daily delivery of the Sucram and Control diets in the Choice dietary treatment were alternated randomly between sides of the bunk divider to prevent positional bias. Differences in dietary preference between Control and Sucram C-150 were largely not significant (P = 0.57 to 0.96) except on d 1 to 2 when Control had greater preference (P = 0.01) than Sucram or Choice; this result was not expected, as no dietary choice was provided in these two treatments. A difference in dietary preference was detected on d 0 to 1 (P = 0.01) and d 2 to 3 (P = 0.02) for Control vs. Choice and Sucram vs. Choice comparisons, with cattle provided the Choice treatment consuming 0.49 and 1.72 kg of DM more of the Sucram C-150 diet than the Control diet, respectively. This effect, however, was not consistent across days and average DMI over the 5-d period did not differ (P = 0.81) between dietary treatments. From the results of these two experiments, the addition of 200 mg/kg (DM Basis) Sucram C-150 to the diet of newly received cattle tended to increase receiving period ADG and resulted in fewer repeat antibiotic treatments to recover from BRD. The feeding of Sucram C-150 during the finishing phase had limited effects on performance and carcass characteristics. Dietary preference was not consistently increased by addition of Sucram C-150 to the diet of yearling steers.