Mineral-nitrogen supplementation to finishing Nellore steers in deferred pasture
SUMMARY The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of two protein levels in mineral-protein-energy supplements on the productivity and economic performance of Nellore steers. Ninety animals weighing 382.35±32.95 kg on average, were treated with mineral-nitrogen supplements containing 30% crude proteins (CP; 75% ground maize, 8.91 % urea and 16.09% mineral) and 40% CP (66.67 % ground maize, 11.90% urea, and 21.43% mineral). The animals were housed in two paddocks of Uruchloa brizantha ‘MG-5’ (syn. Brachiaria brizantha) and were weighed at the beginning, at 45 days, and at 94 days of the experiment, when they were slaughtered at an average weight of 451±35.38 kg. We evaluated supplement intake, weight gain and economic aspects. The 40 and 30% CP treatments significantly affected supplement intake (P<0.05), with averages of 0.69 and 2.26 kg/day, respectively. The average total weight gain was higher (P<0.01) in animals receiving the supplement containing 30 % CP (71.46 kg / animal) than in animals receiving 40% CP (64.33 kg/animal). Greater slaughter weight was attained in the animals treated with 30% CP (456.66 vs. 443.84 kg). The mineral-nitrogen supplementation in both CP levels provided satisfactory animal performance and carcass characteristics. Owing to economic considerations, it is recommended to use 40% CP mineral-nitrogen supplements on finishing steers on pasture, although success in reducing production costs of livestock ultimately depends on the variations in prices between the different regions of the country and market opportunities.