Growth performance and plasma metabolites of grazing beef cattle backgrounded on Buffel or Buffel-Desmanthus mixed pastures

Mwangi, Felista W., Gardiner, Christopher P., Walker, Glen, Hall, Trevor J., Malau-Aduli, Bunmi S., Kinobe, Robert T., and Malau-Aduli, Aduli E.O. (2021) Growth performance and plasma metabolites of grazing beef cattle backgrounded on Buffel or Buffel-Desmanthus mixed pastures. Animals, 11 (8). 2355.

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Dietary crude protein and dry matter digestibility are among the major factors limiting feed intake and weight gain of cattle grazing native and improved pastures in the subtropics of Northern Australia during the dry season. Incorporating a suitable legume into grasses improves pasture quality and cattle weight gain, but only a limited number of legume pastures can establish and persist in cracking clay soils. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of Desmanthusinclusion in buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) pastures on the plasma metabolite profile and growth performance of grazing beef cattle during the dry season. We hypothesised that backgrounding steers on buffel grass-Desmanthusmixed pastures would elicit significant changes in plasma glucose, bilirubin, creatinine, non-esterified fatty acids and β-hydroxybutyrate, resulting in higher liveweight gains than in steers on buffel grass only pastures. Four hundred tropical composite steers were assigned to buffel grass only (n = 200) or buffel grass oversown with Desmanthus(11.5% initial sward dry matter) pastures (n = 200) and grazed for 147 days during the dry season. Desmanthusaccounted for 6.2% sward dry matter at the end of grazing period. Plasma metabolites results showed thatchanges in β-hydroxybutyrate, creatinine, bilirubin, glucose and non-esterified fatty acids were within the expected normal range for all the steers, indicating that with or withoutDesmanthusinclusion in the diet of grazing steers, animal health status was not compromised. It was also evident that Desmanthusinclusion in buffel grass pastures had no impact on the plasma metabolite profile, liveweight and daily weight gain of grazing steers. Therefore, our tested hypothesis of higher changes in plasma metabolite profile and higher liveweight gains due to backgrounding on low-level buffel grass-Desmanthus mixed pastures does not hold.

Item ID: 68929
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2076-2615
Keywords: plasma metabolites; buffel grass; tropical beef cattle; growth performance; tropical pastures; backgrounding; legumes; liveweight
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Copyright Information: Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Funders: Cooperative Research Centre Prohect (CRC-P), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: CRC-P-58599, JCU College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences
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Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2021 00:37
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3003 Animal production > 300303 Animal nutrition @ 100%
SEO Codes: 10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1004 Livestock raising > 100401 Beef cattle @ 100%
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