Effect of graded levels of rare earth elements in diets of fattening bulls on growing and slaughtering performance, and on nutrient digestibility of wethers

The aim of the present dose response study was to examine the long-term effects of increasing the amounts of rare earth elements (REE) in the diet on growth and slaughtering performance of fattening bulls. A total of 48 bulls of German Holstein with an average initial live weight (LW) of 119 13kg were divided into four dietary treatment groups (n=12): a control group and three REE-treated groups, which were fed a supplement of 100, 200 and 300mg REE-citrate per kg dry matter (DM) containing mainly cerium (57.9%), lanthanum (34.0%) and praseodymium (6.5%). The feeding trial was divided into a growing period for 8 weeks and a fattening period for 39 weeks. The growing diet consisted of concentrate, grass silage and grass hay, while the fattening diet consisted of concentrate and maize silage. The animals were slaughtered at approximately 556kg LW. The intake of grass hay and maize silage (0.55-0.31kg/d and 6.09-5.44kg/d, respectively) decreased linearly (p0.05) with increasing REE-citrate supplementation, while LW gain showed only a numerical decrease during the growing (2-4%) and the fattening period (4-5%). The feed-to-gain ratio and ME-to-gain ratio were not significantly affected by REE treatment during the whole feeding trial. The most striking effect of REE on carcass characteristics was a significantly higher dressing percentage in Group C (200mg REE citrate kg/DM) compared to the other groups, while no effects were found on liver, kidneys, heart, thymus, pancreas, spleen and thyroid gland weights. The digestibility trials with wethers indicate that a supplementation of 300mg REE-citrate per kg DM to a ration consisting of concentrate and straw does not enhance the digestibility of nutrients. These results suggest that, under the conditions of the present study, the supplementation of fattening bull diets with REE cannot be recommended



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