Intake, apparent digestibility, rumen fermentation and nitrogen efficiency in sheep fed a tropical legume silage with or without concentrate

Abstract Legume silage can increase the forage quality of the diets as well as supply it with nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. The objective was to evaluate the intake, apparent digestibility, rumen fermentation and nitrogen efficiency in sheep fed a tropical legume silage with or without concentrate. Twelve crossbred sheep with an average initial body weight of 32.2 ± 1.26 kg, with six animals cannulated in the rumen were distributed into four 3 × 3 Latin squares. The treatments were 1) Stylosanthes silage without concentrate (StS), 2) Stylosanthes silage with concentrate (StS+C), and 3) corn silage with concentrate (CS+C). StS diet showed lowest intake, except for neutral detergent fiber (NDF). The diets StS+C and CS+C showed similar intake of dry matter (DM) and crude protein. The intake of total digestible nutrients was higher for CS+C diet than diets StS+C and StS. Animals fed CS+C diet had lowest ruminal pH. The nitrogen use efficiency was similar for the diets with concentrate. In conclusion, StS+C diet replacing CS+C diet decreases the intake of total digestible nutrients.