Seasonal and annual changes in the quality of native rangeland selected by grazing steers in northern Mexico
The objective of this study was to determine and compare seasonally the chemical composition, in vitro gas production, in situ degradability and ruminal fermentation of the diet selected by cattle grazing on native rangeland over two years. Diet samples were collected from four esophageal fistulated steers (350 ± 3 kg BW), and four ruminally fistulated steers (342 ± 1.5 kg BW) were used to evaluate degradation and ruminal fermentation. Data were analyzed using a repeated measurements design. The crude protein (CP), in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) and metabolizable energy (ME) were higher in 2008 (P≤0.01) and in the summer (P≤0.05). The volatile fatty acids (VFA) and propionate concentrations were affected by season and year (P≤0.05). The gas produced by the soluble (a) and insoluble (b) fractions and the constant rate of gas production (c) were greater in the summer and fall (P≤0.05). The values of effective degradability of dry matter (EDDM) were greater in 2008 (P≤0.01) and during the summer (P≤0.05). Likewise, ruminal NH3N concentrations were greater in 2008 and during the summer (P≤0.05). The total concentrations of volatile fatty acids (VFA) and propionate were affected by year (P≤0.05) and season (P≤0.05). This study showed a reduction in the nutritive value of the diet selected by grazing cattle due to annual and seasonal changes.