Influence of L-Carnitine on Performance and Ruminal and Blood Metabolites of Grazing Calves and Finishing Lambs

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© 2002 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists Three experiments were conducted to study the influence of level and type of L-carnitine (LC) on performance and rumiasl and plasma metabolites of weanling calves and finishing lambs. Weanling calves (84) grazing dormant dallisgrass-bermudagrass forage were fed a 20% CP supplement to provide 0, 0.5, 1, or 2 g of ruminally unprotected (RUP) LC per calf daily in Exp. 1. There was a linear increase (P=0.01) and cubic response (P=0.03) to RUP LC in growth rate and quadratic changes (P=0.01) in plasma ammonia N (PAN) and plasma urea N (PUN). In Exp. 2, 32 lambs were individually fed 14% CP diets containing 0, 50, 100, or 200 ppm RUP LC or ruminally protected (RP) LC in a 2 × 4 arrangement of treatments. Lambs gained BW faster (P=0.03) and more efficiently (P=0.07) as the LC level increased to 100 ppm and then declined at 200 ppm (quadratic response). Longissimus area decreased (P=0.03), and fat cover tended (P=0.15) to decline, at 50 and 100 ppm LC and increased at 200 ppm (linear and quadratic response). Ruminal ammonia N levels were reduced at 50 ppm LC but increased at greater LC levels (linear, quadratic, and cubic response, P=0.02). Plasma carnitine concentrations increased (P=0.01) as the dietary level of LC increased. Protected LC was more effective than RUP LC in increasing growth rate (P=0.06) and reducing PAN (P=0.1). In Exp. 3, 16 wether and 16 ewe lambs were individually fed corn-based or soybean hull-based diets with 0 or 100 ppm RP LC in a 2 × 2 arrangement of treatments. Lambs fed RP LC gained BW faster and more efficiently (P=0.04) than lambs that were not fed LC. Lambs fed corn-based and soybean hull-based diets responded similarly to RP LC; however, performance was greater (P=0.03) for lambs fed the corn-based diet. Gender of lambs did not influence the response to diet or RP LC. Supplementing the diet with 100 ppm RP LC reduced (P=0.01) ruminal pH and ammonia N. Plasma carnitine concentrations were increased (P=0.01), and PAN was decreased (P=0.04) by feeding 100 ppm RP LC. Ruminnaly unprotected and RP LC were effective in improving growth rate in ruminants; the latter appeared to be more effective in finishing lambs. L-carnitine reduced ruminal ammonia N and plasma glucose and, in some cases, PAN and PUN.

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Professional Animal Scientist

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