Effect of Yucca schidigera on ruminal fermentation and nutrient digestion in heifers

A N Hristov, T A McAllister, F H Van Herk, K J Cheng, C J Newbold, P R Cheeke

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In a replicated 3 x 3 Latin square experiment, six heifers (443 +/- 6.1 kg) fed a 61% barley grain:39% alfalfa silage diet (DM basis) were given intraruminal doses of powdered Yucca schidigera (YS). Doses of 0 (control), 20, or 60 g/d were given at 0800 daily. Ruminal content was sampled 0, 2, 4, and 6 h after dosing. Acidity, concentrations of reducing sugars, free amino acids, and peptides in the rumen were not affected (P > .05) by YS. Relative to control, ruminal ammonia concentration was reduced (P < .05) 2 h after YS dosing. Ruminal propionate concentration was increased (P < .05) by YS. Protozoal numbers in the rumen were lower (P < .05) with YS than without. Yucca did not affect (P > .05) rate or extent of in situ DM degradability. Fibrolytic, amylolytic, and proteolytic activities in ruminal contents were similar among treatments (P > .05). Dry matter intake, apparent digestibilities of DM, NDF, and CP, nitrogen balance, and microbial protein synthesis in the rumen were not affected (P > .05) by treatment. The effect of YS on ruminal ammonia concentration likely resulted from a decreased concentration of protozoa and, presumably, from ammonia binding by YS. The effect on ruminal propionate was probably a result of a selective inhibitory effect of YS on rumen microbial species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2554-63
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Cattle/metabolism
  • Digestion
  • Fermentation
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Liliaceae/metabolism
  • Medicago sativa/metabolism
  • Rumen/metabolism


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