Effects of folic acid on growth performance, ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility and urinary excretion of purine derivatives in post-weaned dairy calves
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This study evaluated the effects of folic acid (FA) supplementation on growth performance, ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility and urinary purine derivatives (PD) excretion in dairy calves. Forty-eight Chinese Holstein male dairy calves at 60 ± 3.2 d of age and 89 ± 5.9 kg body weight (mean ± standard error) were assigned to one of four groups in a randomised block design. Calves in control group were fed basal diet, calves in low FA, medium FA and high FA groups with 3.6, 7.2 and 10.8 mg FA per kg basal diet, respectively. The dietary corn silage to concentrate ratio was 50:50 (dry matter [DM] basis). DM intake and average daily gain (ADG) quadratically increased, and feed conversion ratio quadratically decreased with increasing FA supplementation. Ruminal pH linearly decreased, whereas total volatile fatty acids quadratically increased. The unchanged acetate-to-propionate ratio was due to the similar change in acetate and propionate concentration. Ammonia N content quadratically decreased. Digestibility of DM, organic matter, crude protein, ether extract, neutral detergent fibre and acid detergent fibre linearly increased. Activities of carboxymethyl cellulase, cellobiase, xylanase and pectinase linearly increased, but α-amylase and protease quadratically increased. Abundance of Ruminococcus albus, Ruminococcus flavefaciens and Fibrobacter succinogenes linearly increased, but Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens and Prevotella ruminicola quadratically increased. Urinary total PD excretion quadratically increased. The results indicated that FA supplementation increased ADG, ruminal fermentation and nutrient digestibility with promoted ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity, and the optimum dose was 7.2 mg FA per kg basal diet for calves.
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