Sugar beet silage produced using unprocessable sugar beets and straw may be an alternative in cattle feed when grain or other silage is short. That's according to researchers at the Lethbridge Research Centre in Alberta, Canada.

Beet silage in finishing diets produces similar gains to diets containing barley silage, but it may be less efficient and more likely to cause bloat, researchers say.

In a recent feedlot study, 216 crossbred beef steers were given either 100% barley silage, a combination of 50% beet silage and 50% barley silage, or 100% beet silage.

Researchers say beet silage had very little effect on growth rate and no effect on carcass characteristics.

The fiber digestibility of the beet silage was lower than that of barley silage and led to a greater incidence of bloat. That indicates a greater proportion of fiber is needed in diets containing beet silage, researchers say.

Feed intake increased by 3.6% when 50% of the barley silage was replaced by beet silage, and by 6.2% when barley silage was fully replaced by beet silage. Researchers attribute the increased feed intake to the lower energy content of beet silage in comparison to barley silage.

The higher feed intake lowered feed efficiency by 4.6% when 50% of the barley silage was replaced by beet silage, and by 7% when barley silage was fully replaced by beet silage.

To maintain the same cost of gain, the cost of beet silage would have to be lower than that of barley silage.

For more information, contact Karen Beauchemin, Lethbridge Research Centre, at 403/317-2235.

To submit items for “Research Roundup,” e-mail beef@primediabusiness.com or fax to 952/851-4601.