Rolled barley versus citrus pulp: What comes out on top?

A recent study, carried out in Teagasc Grange, looked at the effects of replacing rolled barley with citrus pulp on intake, growth and carcass traits of finishing cattle.

The study was based on the performance achieved by late-maturing, suckler-bred steers (initial liveweight of 446kg) over a 135-day finishing period.

Animals were housing in pens in a slatted-floor shed and offered grass silage (dry matter digestibility of 71%) ad-lib and 4kg/day (dry matter) of concentrates – split in two feeds. Animals were assigned one of three concentrates for the duration of the study.

The control concentrate, based on rolled barley, comprised of: 86.5% rolled barley; 6% soya bean meal; 5% molasses; and 2.5% minerals and vitamins. In the other two concentrates, barley was replaced with 40% citrus pulp plus 1% soya bean meal or 80% citrus pulp plus 2% soya bean meal.

Concentrates were prepared as a coarse mixture and formulated to have similar concentrations of protein per kilogram of dry matter.

The results

The results showed that supplement type did not affect grass silage intake. Daily liveweight gain and feed conversion ratio did not differ between the control concentrate and the 40% citrus pulp concentrate.

However, animals offered the 80% citrus pulp ration had a lower liveweight gain and poorer feed efficiency.

Carcass weight, kill-out proportion, carcass confirmation and fat score did not differ significantly between the three treatments.

In conclusion, under the conditions of this study, citrus pulp can replace rolled barley at inclusion rates up to 40% when offered as a supplement to grass silage without negatively affecting performance.