Influence of supplementary nickel on feed intake, nutrient utilization and growth performance in Murrah buffalo calves
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Eighteen Murrah buffalo male calves of similar age (8.7 months) and body weight (125 kg) were selected from Livestock Research Centre, ICAR- National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India and divided into 3 groups of 6 animals using randomised block design to investigate the effect of different levels of nickel (Ni) supplementation on feed intake, nutrient utilization, growth performance and rumen fermentation parameter. All the animals were fed to meet their nutrient requirements ICAR (2013), however, the animals in groups T1, T2 and T3 were supplemented with 0, 5 and 10 ppm of Ni, respectively. Daily DM intake and fortnightly body weights were recorded in the morning before offering feed and water. Rumen liquor samples were collected at 0, 60 and 120 days of the experiment to analyze different rumen fermentation variables. Different levels of Ni in the diet did not influence nutrient intake, digestibility of nutrients (DM, OM, CP, EE, NDF and ADF), nitrogen balance, growth rate and feed conversion ratio. The values of various rumen fermentation parameters like pH, total volatile fatty acids, ammonia-N and TCA precipitable-N were similar in the three groups, The urease activity in rumen liquor was the highest (P<0.05) in group T3. The propionate level increased (P<0.05) while that of butyrate decreased in group T3 as compared to groups T1 and T2 showing no significant effect on acetate concentration. Hence, supplementation of Ni upto 10 ppm in the ration did not affect nutrient utiliisation and growth performance in male Murrah buffalo calves, however, urease activity and proportion of propionate increased to a greater extent in calves supplemented with 10 ppm Ni.