Analysis of NH3-N Slow Release systems for fiber digestibility of low-quality forage: in vitro approach

ABSTRACT: Urea is a common non-protein supplement used in ruminant feed; however, excessive consumption may lead to poisoning by NH3. Although the slow release of urea into the rumen has shown to be an essential aspect for ruminant feed, to date only a few studies have addressed this matter. In this study we examined the influence of five different NH3-N slow release systems based on clay-urea nanocomposites on the fiber digestibility of low-quality forage (sugarcane straw) in vitro. Physical properties of nanocomposites were evaluated and their effects on digestibility were tested in vitro using pristine urea as a positive control (level of 1 % of DM of sugarcane straw sample) and sugarcane (with no additives) as a negative control. Ammonia release and digestibility were evaluated at 12, 24, 36, 48, 72 and 96-h. Generally, all nanocomposites increased (p < 0.05) digestibility of fiber over control under all the conditions stipulated, but the samples with hydrogel content were more expressive. We concluded that an ideal release rate and optimum environment for microbial synthesis are necessary to maximize the digestion of sugarcane.