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Effect of replacing corn with cactus pear on the performance and carcass traits and meat quality of feedlot finished lambs

Abstract

The aim was to evaluate the effect of replacing ground corn with spineless cactus from two species Orelha de Elefante Mexicana-OEM (Opuntia stricta Haw.) and Gigante (Opuntia ficus-indica Mill) in a total mixed ration for finishing lambs evaluating its effects on intake, ingestive behavior, performance, carcass traits, commercial cuts and physiochemical composition of the meat. Eighteen crossbred lambs with average body weight of 15.0 ± 2.32 kg were distributed in a completely randomized design with three treatments (OEM and Gigante spineless cactus and ground corn as control treatment) and six replications. Spineless cactus species replacing ground corn in lambs diets does not change the intake of dry matter (DMI), crude protein and neutral detergent fiber or time (min/d) of ingestion, rumination and idleness, or final body weight gain. Lambs fed with ground corn and "Gigante" cactus presented a higher total weigh gain (TWG) and average daily weight gain (ADG) when compared to OEM spineless specie. Ground corn diet promoted better hot and cold carcass yield in lambs receiving spineless cactus, regardless of species. Feed and total costs (kg/lamb) were higher for the ground corn diet. The replacement of ground corn with spineless cactus did not change moisture, protein, and ash meat contents, as well as water holding capacity, cooking loss, shear force, and a* color intensity. However, there was an effect for the meat lipid content, b* and L* color intensity and color index, where the species of cactus Gigante on ground corn presented the highest lipid content and yellowness (b*) intensity and lower L* color compared to OEM. Spineless cactus species Gigante can replace ground corn as a source of energy in diets for finishing lambs because it significantly improves the financial income for the producer without changing the ADG, DMI, ingestive behavior and yield of commercial cuts.

Keywords
cactus pear; carcass; color; shear force; ruminant

Resumo

Objetivou-se avaliar o efeito da substituição do milho moído por duas espécies de palma forrageira, Orelha de Elefante Mexicana-OEM (Opuntia stricta Haw.) e espécie Gigante (Opuntia ficus-indica Mill) em uma ração completa para terminação de cordeiros avaliando seus efeitos sobre consumo, comportamento ingestivo, desempenho, características de carcaça, cortes comerciais e composição físico-química da carne. Foram utilizados dezoito cordeiros sem padrão racial definido com peso corporal médio de 15,0 ± 2,32 kg e foram distribuídos em delineamento inteiramente casualizado com três tratamentos (OEM e palma Gigante e grão de milho como controle) e seis repetições. As duas espécies de palma forrageira em substituição ao milho moído na dieta de cordeiros não modificaram o consumo de matéria seca (CMS) proteína bruta e fibra em detergente neutro nem o tempo (min/dia) de ingestão, ruminação e ócio ou ganho corporal final. Cordeiros alimentados com milho moído e palma Gigante apresentaram maior ganho de peso total (GPT) e médio diário (GMD) em relação à espécie OEM. A dieta com milho moído promoveu melhor rendimento de carcaça quente e fria comparando cordeiros recebendo palma forrageira, independente da espécie. Os custos com ração e total (kg/cordeiro) foram maiores para a dieta com milho moído. A substituição do milho moído pela palma forrageira não alterou os teores de umidade, proteína e cinzas da carne, bem como a capacidade de retenção de água, perda por cozimento, força de cisalhamento e intensidade de cor a*. No entanto, houve efeito para o teor de lipídios da carne, índice de intensidade de cor b* e L*, sendo que a espécie de palma Gigante e o milho grão moído apresentou o maior teor de lipídios e intensidade de amarelo (b*) e menor cor L* em relação ao OEM. A espécie palma forrageira Gigante pode substituir o milho moído como fonte de energia em dietas para cordeiros em terminação, pois melhora significativamente o rendimento financeiro do produtor sem alterar o GMD, CMS, comportamento ingestivo e rendimento dos cortes comerciais.

Palavras-chave
carcaça; coloração; força de cisalhamento; palma; ruminante

1. Introduction

Ground corn is one of the main energy feeds used in sheep diets, however, despite being widely used in the diet of monogastric and ruminants, it has a high cost. Among concentrate feeds, corn predominates in most feedlots in Brazil and, despite its high energy value, when used in mixed diets of roughage and concentrates, it can cause an adverse effect by reducing the digestibility of the dietetic fiber (11 Vastolo A, Calabrò S, Cutrignelli MI. A review on the use of agro-industrial CO-products in animals’ diets. Italian J. Anim. Sci. 2022;21(1):577-594. https://doi.org/10.1080/1828051X.2022.2039562
https://doi.org/10.1080/1828051X.2022.20...
). The high nutritional value of ground corn, as a food product for human consumption, and the need for its use in the composition of monogastric animals’ feeding, make its cost high, leading producers to search for alternative ingredients. Thus, byproducts rich in highly digestible fiber have been evaluated as alternative energy sources to replace starchy grains (22 Araújo PRB, Ferreira M de A, Brasil LH de A, Santos DC dos, Lima RMB, Véras ASC. Substituição do milho por palma forrageira em dietas completas para vacas em lactação. R. Bras. Zootec. 2004;33(6):1850-1857. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982004000700024
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-3598200400...
).

In this sense, the spineless cactus provides water and feed for animals and humans in areas with water scarcity (11 Vastolo A, Calabrò S, Cutrignelli MI. A review on the use of agro-industrial CO-products in animals’ diets. Italian J. Anim. Sci. 2022;21(1):577-594. https://doi.org/10.1080/1828051X.2022.2039562
https://doi.org/10.1080/1828051X.2022.20...
). In its composition, the spineless cactus has a high content of water (80 to 90%) and organic matter (93%), but it has low dry matter-DM (± 10% as fed) and crude protein-CP (±3.5% in DM), being advised the added supply of a fiber source and a protein feed to prevent digestive problems when supplied alone (33 Cordova-Torres AV, Guerra RR, Araújo Filho JT de, Medeiros AN, Costa RG, Ribeiro NL, Bezerra LR. Effect of water deprivation and increasing levels of spineless cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera) cladodes in the diet of growing lambs on intake, growth performance and ruminal and intestinal morphometric changes. Liv. Sci. 2022;258:104828. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2022.104828
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2022.10...
,44 Tegegne F, Kijora C, Peters KJ. Study on the optimal level of cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) supplementation to sheep and its contribution as source of water. Small Rumin. Res. 2007; 72: 157-164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.2006.10.004
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.20...
). However, despite the low DM concentration, spineless cactus is an excellent source of ruminant dietary energy because of its high non-fiber carbohydrates-NFC (± 55% in DM) and total digestible nutrients (TDN) content (44 Tegegne F, Kijora C, Peters KJ. Study on the optimal level of cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) supplementation to sheep and its contribution as source of water. Small Rumin. Res. 2007; 72: 157-164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.2006.10.004
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.20...
,55 Albuquerque I, Araújo G, Santos F, Carvalho G, Santos E, Nobre I, Bezerra L, Silva-Júnior J, Silva-Filho E, Oliveira R. Performance, body water balance, ingestive behavior and blood metabolites in goats fed with cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica L. Miller) silage subjected to an intermittent water supply. Sustainability.2020; 12: 2881. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072881.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072881...
). However, it is important to point out that spineless cactus should not be the only source of food in the animal's diet, as it has a low protein content. It is recommended that the spineless cactus be used in conjunction with other feed sources to ensure an adequate nutritional balance in the sheep diet (66 Cordova-Torres AV, Mendoza-Mendoza JC, Bernal-Santos G, García-Gasca T, Kawas JR, Costa RG, Mondragon Jacobo C, Andrade-Montemayor HM. Nutritional composition, in vitro degradability and gas production of Opuntia ficus indica and four other wild cacti species. Life Sci. J. 2015;12: 42-54. https://doi.org/10.7537/marslsj1202s15.07
https://doi.org/10.7537/marslsj1202s15.0...
).

Two species of spineless cactus are cultivated predominantly for animal feed, Opuntia fícus-indica Mill) or Palma Gigante (PG) is characterized by disease resistance, a determining characteristic in the selection of a cactus variety, and among these (88 Moraes GS de O, Guim A, Tabosa JN, Chagas JCC, Almeida M de P, Ferreira Mde A. Cactus [Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw] cladodes and corn silage: How do we maximize the performance of lactating dairy cows reared in semiarid regions? Livest. Sci. 2019; 221: 133-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2019.01.026
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2019.01...
), the Opuntia stricta [Haw.] or Orelha de Elefante mexicana (OEM) species has shown resistance to carmine cochineal, an insect that has caused serious damage to producers on also has a lower requirement for soil fertility (99 Almeida HA de, Soares ER de A, Neto JA dos S, Pinto I de O. Social and productive indicators of forage palm and the survival of livestock activity in the semi-arid region of Northeastern Brazil. Asian J. Adv. Agric. Res. 2019:1-12. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajaar/2019/v10i130018
https://doi.org/10.9734/ajaar/2019/v10i1...
). However, it has many thorns, which can compromise its palatability and make it difficult to manage as a forage plant (1010 Marques OFC, Gomes LSP, Mourthé MHF, Braz TG S, Pires Neto OS. Palma forrageira: cultivo e utilização na alimentação de ovinos. Cad. Ci. Agr. 2017;9(1): 75-93.). Regarding Opuntia stricta [Haw.] specie, it has been used extensively due to high productivity, greater resistance to drought and greater susceptibility to carmine cochineal (1111 Magalhães ALR, Teodoro AL, Oliveira LP, Gois GC, Campos FS, Andrade AP, Melo A AS, Nascimento DB, Silva WA. Chemical composition, fractionation of carbohydrates and nitrogen compounds, ruminal degradation kinetics, and in vitro gas production of cactus pear genotypes. Ci. Anim. Bras. 2021;22:e-69338 https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-6891v22e-69338
https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-6891v22e-69...
).

Veras et al. (1212 Veras RML, Ferreira M de A, Carvalho FFR de, Véras ASC. Farelo de palma forrageira (Opuntia ficus-indica Mill) em substituição ao milho: 1. digestibilidade aparente de nutrientes. R. Bras. Zootec. 2002;31(3):1302-6.https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982002000500029
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-3598200200...
) observed that replacing up to 75% of corn bran by spineless cactus in sheep diets did not change the nutrient digestibility coefficient and TDN content. In contrast, Cavalcanti et al. (1313 Cavalcanti CVA, Ferreira MA, Veras, RML. Farelo de palma forrageira como fonte de energia para ovinos em crescimento. 1. Digestibilidade aparente. In: Congresso De Iniciação CientificA UFRPE, 11, 2002, Recife. Anais... Recife: Universidade Federal Rural do Pernambuco, 2002. p.403-404.) and Veras et al. (1414 Véras RML, Ferreira M de A, Cavalcanti CV de A, Véras ASC, Carvalho FFR de, Santos GRA dos, Alves, KS, Souto Maior Júnior, RJ. Substituição do milho por farelo de palma forrageira em dietas de ovinos em crescimento: desempenho. R. Bras. Zootec. 2005;34(1):249-56. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982005000100029
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-3598200500...
) verified a reduction in dry matter digestibility and weight gain in sheep when substituting ground corn for spineless cactus.

Therefore, spineless cactus represents a promising alternative to corn in the diet of sheep, due to its high content of easily digestible carbohydrates and its capacity for rumen fermentation. These characteristics can enhance nutrient absorption and make it a more cost-effective option, particularly in regions where cactus is locally and extensively cultivated, leading to high yields per hectare and reduced feed production costs. Incorporating cactus pear into the diet may also improve animal productivity, as it is a source of high-quality energy that can facilitate weight gain and improve carcass quality. This research aimed to evaluate the effect of replacing ground corn by spineless cactus on intake, ingestive behavior, performance, commercial cuts, and carcass yield of lambs.

2. Material and methods

All animal handling practices followed the recommendations of the National Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA) for the protection of animals used for animal experimentation and other scientific purposes and were approved by the Ethics Committee on Animal Experimentation of the Federal University of Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil (Protocol number 37/2020).

2.1 Location and facilities

The experiment carried out in the sheep and goat facilities of the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology, Campus Crato, in the town of Crato, Ceará. The geographic location is 7º12’25” South latitude, 39º26’48” West longitude and 271 m of average altitude in meters. The climate is tropical with an average temperature of 25.1 °C, and average annual rainfall of 1086 mm.

2.2 Animals, experimental design and diets

Eighteen uncastrated crossbred male lambs, at an average age of three months and initial body weight of 15.0 ± 2.32 kg were used. Before starting the experiment, the animals identified with earrings, weighed, dewormed, vaccinated against clostridium disease, in addition to application of ADE vitamin supplement and, after drawing lots, distributed in individual pens measuring 1.60 × 0.80 m, equipped with feeders and water drinkers. Lambs were distributed in a completely randomized design with three treatments (ground corn, and two diets replacing ground corn by two spineless cactus "Palma Gigante" and "Orelha de Elefante Mexicana" species and six replications per treatment. The experiment lasted 90 days, preceded by an adaptation period of 15 days.

The complete diets were formulated with a roughage: concentrate ratio of 40:60, using Tifton-85 hay in particles of approximately 5.0 cm as the roughage ingredient. The ingredients used in the concentrates were ground corn, soybean meal, soybean oil, and a mineral mixture (Table 1). The diets were formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for a weight gain of 200 g/day according to NRC (1515 National Research Council-NRC. Nutrient requirements of small ruminants : sheep, goats, cervids, and New World camelids, 1st ed. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.2007.) recommendations.

Table 1
Chemical composition and ingredient proportions of the experimental diets (% DM)

The supply of experimental rations was carried out at 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, according to the pre-established treatments, with water permanently available to the animals in plastic containers. Before the morning supply, the leftovers of each experimental unit were collected, which after being weighed, recorded, and sampled, were stored under freezing at -10 ºC, together with samples of diets and ingredients for later formation of a weekly composite sample per animal, which at the end of the experimental period represented a total sample per animal/treatment. The amount of feed was adjusted daily to provide an ad libitum intake allowing for a 10% of leftover.

2.3 Chemical composition and calculations

The contents of dry matter (method 967.03), crude ash (method 942.05), crude protein (method 981.10), and ether extract (EE; 920.29) were determined, according to the AOAC (1616 AOAC. Official Methods of Analysis,19th ed. Association of Official Analytical Chemistry, Washington, DC, USA.2012.). For the determination of neutral detergent fiber NDF, the methodologies described by Van Soest et al. (1717 Van Soest PJ, Robertson JB, Lewis BA. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber, and nonstarch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. J. Dairy Sci. 74, 3583-3597. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302 1991;(91):78551-2
https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302...
) were used. For NDF analysis, three drops (50 μL) of α-amylase added per sample in the washing with the detergent, as well as in the water. The NDF content was corrected for ash and protein (NDFap), following the methodology described by Licitra et al. (1818 Licitra G, Hernandez TM, Van Soest PJ. Standardization of procedures for nitrogen fractionation of ruminant feeds. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 1996;57:347-358. https://doi.org/10.1016/0377-8401(95)00837-3
https://doi.org/10.1016/0377-8401(95)008...
), where the neutral detergent residue was burned in a muffle furnace at 600 °C for 4 h, and the correction for protein was performed by discounting the insoluble protein in neutral detergent. Non-fiber carbohydrates (NFC) were calculated by the equation: NFC = 100 - [(CP - CP from urea + urea) + NDF + EE + Ash, considering the presence of urea in their constitution (1919 Hall MB. Neutral Detergent-Solubre Carbohydrates Nutritional Relevance and Analysis - A Laboratorial Manual.2000.). Based on the composition of the evaluated feeds, the maintenance NDT values were estimated, according to NRC equations (2020 National Research Council-NRC. Nutrient requeriments of dairy cattle. 7.rev.ed. Washinton, D.C.: 2001. 381p.).

2.4 Ingestive behavior

The lambs were individually monitored by two observers positioned to interfere as little as possible with animal behavior. The monitoring during 24 hours at days 35 and 70 for 24 h at 5-min intervals. The nighttime observations were conducted using matte artificial lighting in which the animals were previously adapted. The relations obtained the variables referring to the ingestive behavior: EE = DMI/FT; RE = DMI/RT; TCT=FT + RT; NRB = RT/CMtb; CMnb = NRBCMnb, wherein, EE (g DM/h) is the eating efficiency; DMI (g DM/day) is dry matter intake; FT (h/day) is the feeding time; RE (g DM/h) is the rumination efficiency; RT (h/day) is the rumination time; TCT (h/day) is the total chewing time; NRB (Nº/day) is the number of rumen boli; CMtb (sec/ bolus) is the time of chewing per ruminal bolus (Polli et al., 1996); and CMnb (No./cake) is the number of chewing per bolus.

2.5 Growth Performance

The intake of nutrient obtained by the difference between the total of each nutrient offered in the diet and the total of each nutrient contained in leftovers. To carry out the chemical composition analyses, the samples pre-dried at 55°C for 72 hours, ground in a Willey-type mill (Tecnal, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil) with a 1 mm sieve and stored in airtight plastic containers. For the performance, lambs weighed at the beginning and end of the experiment to determine the total weight gain (TWG) obtained by the difference between the final weight (FW) and initial weight (IW): TWG = (IW - FW). The estimate of average daily weight gain (ADG) obtained through the relationship between the WG and the total days referring to the feedlot period until slaughter: ADG = WG/75.

2.6 Slaughter, carcass characteristics and commercial cuts

After 75 days of experimental period, the lambs were subjected to 16 h of fasting, the animals were weighed and slaughtered. During the slaughtering procedure, the animals were stunned by electronarcosis (220 V, 1.5 A for 10 seconds; Dal Pino, Santo André, SP, Brazil), according to the guidelines of the Brazilian Department of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA, Brazil) for the Federal Inspection Service (2121 Brazil, Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (MAPA),. Portaria Nº 365, de 16 de julho DE 2021 - SDA/MAPA, Aprova o Regulamento Técnico de Manejo Pré-abate e Abate Humanitário e os métodos de insensibilização autorizados pelo Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento. Acesso em: https://www.gov.br/agricultura/pt-br/assuntos/producao-animal/boas-praticas-de-producao-animal/legislacao#:~:text=Portaria%20n%C2%BA%20365%20de%2016,Agricultura%2C%20Pecu%C3%A1ria%20e%20Abastecimento.
https://www.gov.br/agricultura/pt-br/ass...
). At slaughter, after bleeding, skinning and evisceration, the head and legs were removed, and the carcasses were weighed to obtain the hot carcass weight (HCW) and determination of the hot carcass yield [HCY = HCW/BWS (body weight at slaughter) × 100]. Then, the carcasses were cooled for 24 h in a refrigerated chamber at a temperature of 4ºC, being weighed to obtain the cold carcass weight (CCW). Weight loss due to chilling (LC) was calculated by the difference between LC = HCW - CCW/HCW × 100 and the cold carcass yield (CCY = CCW / BWS × 100). After the refrigeration period, the carcasses were sectioned in half, the half carcasses weighed and the left half carcass sectioned into five anatomical regions (2222 Cezar MF, Souza WH. Carcaças Ovinas e Caprinas: obtenção, avaliação e classificação. Uberaba-MG.2007.), originating commercial meat cuts: neck, shoulder, leg, loin, and chop. The individual weight of each cut was recorded.

The carcasses were transferred to a cold room at a temperature of 4°C for 24 h. then, the Longissimus lumborum muscle went through the toilet process, where the connective tissue and apparent fat were removed and finally the loin fractionation was carried out, which was conditioned in five polystyrene trays and sealed with a transparent PVC adherent film (Poliembalagens®, São Paulo, Brazil) and stored in a freezer at -18 °C during the storage period.

2.7 Physicochemical meat analyzes

Three samples of the longissimus dorsis (2.5 cm thick) were used to determine cooking weight loss (2323 AMSA. Research guiderlines for cookery, sensory evaluation and instrumental terderness Measurements of fresh meat. Chicago.1995). The weight of the samples were recorded before and after cooking. The subcutaneous fat of the samples were removed and cooked on an electric grill (Grill Mondial®, São Paulo, Brazil) at 170 °C and the temperature monitored by a portable digital thermometer (Incoterm®) until the moment when the internal temperature of the geometric center of the sample reached 71 °C. After cooking, the steaks were removed from the grill and weighed, and the difference between the initial and final weight of the sample was used to determine the cooking loss, expressed in %.

The water holding capacity (WHC) was determined by placing meat samples weighing approximately 100 mg inside previously weighed filter paper (P1), and pressed for five minutes, using a weight of 3.4 kg. After pressing, the samples were removed, and the paper was weighed again (P2). The calculation followed the formula: WHC (%) = (P2 - P1) /S × 100, where “S” represents the weight of the sample (2424 Sierra I Aportaciones al estudio del cruce Blanco Belga x Landrace: caracteres produtivos, calidad de la canal y calidad de la carne. Rev. del Inst. Econ. y Prod. Ganad. del Ebro 1973; 16: 43-48.). Six cylindrical samples taken from each steak on a bench measuring approximately 1.12 mm in diameter. Shear force was determined with the Warner-Bratzler Shear Force (2525 AMSA. Guiderlines for sensory, physical and chemical measurements in ground beef. Chicago, IL.1978) apparatus (GR Electrical Manufacturing Company, 25 kg).

After exposing the samples to the atmosphere for 30 minutes for myoglobin oxygenation, measurements related to color were performed in triplicate, using a Minolta CR-400 colorimeter (Konica Minolta, Osaka, Japan), and the CIE system (Commission Internationale de l'éclairage) L*, a*, b*, at the end obtaining an average of the variables. The parameters L* - luminosity (L* 0 = black; 100 = white), a* - red index and b* - yellow index were evaluated according to Miltenburg et al. (2626 Miltenburg GA, Wensing T, Smulders FJ, Breukink HJ. Relationship between blood hemoglobin, plasma and tissue iron, muscle heme pigment, and carcass color of veal. J. Anim. Sci. 1992;70:2766-2772. https://doi.org/10.2527/1992.7092766x
https://doi.org/10.2527/1992.7092766x...
). The determination of moisture content, dry matter, minerals, and crude protein of the meat followed the recommendations of the AOAC (2727 Association on Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC). Official methods of analysis, 20th ed. AOAC International, Gaithersburg, MD, USA.2016.).

2.8 Economic analysis of the diets

The cost analysis considered the descriptive analysis of the diets cost during the 75 days of the experiment, with ingredients priced based on the current US$ dollar quotation (Dairy Farm International Holdings, Ltd.), as well as the profit with the sale of goat kid carcass (kg). Income over feeding costs (IOFC) was calculated using the following equation (2828 Buza MH, Holden LA, White RA, Ishler VA. Evaluating the effect of ration composition on income over feed cost and milk yield. J. Dairy Sci. 2014; 97:3073-3080. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2013-7622.
https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2013-7622...
): IOFC = Total Revenue (TR) - Total Feeding Costs (TFC), where: TR = revenue generated after the sale of cold carcasses, and TFC= feeding cost per diet × dry matter intake. The economic profitability (profit or loss) is presented in US$/animal.

2.9 Statistical analyzes

The experimental design completely randomized with three treatments and six replications per treatment. The data obtained analyzed using SAS 9.4 and the following statistical model used:

Y i j = μ + τ i + ε i j ,

Yij= value observed in the experimental unit that received treatment i, repetition j;

μ= general mean common to all observations;

τi= effect of treatment i;

ɛij= random error with mean 0 and variance σ22 Araújo PRB, Ferreira M de A, Brasil LH de A, Santos DC dos, Lima RMB, Véras ASC. Substituição do milho por palma forrageira em dietas completas para vacas em lactação. R. Bras. Zootec. 2004;33(6):1850-1857. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982004000700024
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-3598200400...

The data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS (version 9.4); means were compared through Tukey’s test. A significance value of 0.05 was adopted as the critical value of the probability of type I and II errors. The statistical test chosen adequately controls the error rates per experiment and per comparison, preserving the nominal level of significance and essential control of type I and II errors and, therefore, was chosen for the studied variables.

3. Results

The replacement of corn by spineless cactus varieties did not influence the intake of DM, CP, and NDF (P >0.05), as well as the ingestive behavior (P >0.05) of feedlot lambs (Table 2). Most of the time was spent idling (704 min/day average) followed by rumination (514.33 min/day average), and less time eating (222 min/day average).

Table 2
Nutrient intake and ingestive behavior of lambs fed spineless cactus replacing ground corn

Regarding the performance and carcass characteristics of lamb, lambs fed with ground corn and "Gigante" cactus presented a higher total gain and ADG (P = 0.0243) compared OEM specie. Ground corn diet promoted higher HCY and CCY (P <0.05) comparing lambs receiving spineless cactus, regardless of species (Table 3). There was no significant effect (P >0.05) for final body weight, total weight gain, feed efficiency hot carcass weight and cold carcass weight.

Table 3
Performance, carcass characteristics of lambs and economic analysis of diets (R$) containing spineless cactus replacing ground corn

Feed and total costs (kg/lamb) were higher for the ground corn diet (0.42 and 29.32). However, for the diet containing spineless cactus OEM, it provided a better cost and consequently a higher profit when compared to the other diets. The weights and yields of commercial cuts were not influenced (P >0.05) by replacing ground corn with spineless cactus, (Table 4), except for breast yield (P = 0.01) which was higher for diet with "Gigante" species and OEM (9.37 and 9.30%).

Table 4
Commercial cuts of lambs fed diets containing spineless cactus replacing ground corn

The replacement of ground corn with spineless cactus did not change (P >0.05) moisture, protein, and ash meat contents, as well as water holding capacity, cooking loss, shear force, and a* color intensity (Table 5). However, there was an effect for the meat lipid content (P = 0.001), b* (P = 0.001) and L* color intensity color index, which the species of cactus Gigante on ground corn presented the highest lipid content and yellowness intensity and lower L* color compared to OEM.

Table 5
Physicochemical characteristics of the longissimus dorsi muscle of sheep fed cactus pear.

4. Discussion

DMI similar among lambs is directly related to the ingestive behavior of the animals as well as the similarity of the chemical composition of the diets, since the use of Tifton hay (fiber) provided similar rumination rates to the animals consuming cactus despite the lower DM content in the diets containing spineless cactus. According to Van Soest (2929 Van Soest PJ. Nutritional ecology of the ruminant. Cornell university press.2018.) and Maciel et al. (3030 Maciel LPAA, de Carvalho FFR, Batista ÂMV, Guim A, do Vale Maciel M, Cardoso D B, Lima Júnior DM. Intake, digestibility and metabolism in sheep fed with increasing levels of spineless cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera Salm-Dyck). Trop. Anim. Health Prod. 2019;51: 1717-1723. doi: 10.1007/s11250-019-01868-4.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-019-01868...
), rumination activity in adult animals occupies around eight hours/day, varying from four to nine hours. The mean obtained in this study for rumination time was 8.5 hours (514 min), corroborating this statement. Diet composition influences animal behavior. According to (77 Felix SCR, Pessoa RAS, de Andrade Ferreira M, Soares LFP, de Lima Silva J, de Abreu K SF, de Melo ACC. Intake, performance, and carcass characteristics of lambs fed spineless cactus replacing wheat bran. Trop. Anim. Health Prod 2016;48(2):465-46 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-015-0969-2
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-015-0969-...
), feed ingredients with higher proportions of fibrous material require a longer feeding and rumination time to meet their needs and a decrease in material particles to be better used by bacteria.

Costa et al. (3131 Costa RG, Treviño IH, Medeiros GR, Medeiros AN, Gonzaga Neto S, Azevedo PS, Pinto TF. Feeding behavior and performance of sheep fed cactus in substitution of corn. R. Bras. Zootec. 2013;42:785-791. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982013001100004
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982013...
) observed that the total substitution of corn by cactus pear, despite leading to a reduction in weight gain, increased the DM intake and improved the ability of sheep to digest the nutrients and recommended cactus pear as part of the diet during the finishing of feedlot sheep.

Spineless cactus Gigante species as well as the ground corn promoted high weight gain which did not occur with the OEM species. The spineless cactus is a rich source of easily digestible carbohydrates and has a high rate of rumen fermentation, which can improve the absorption of nutrients by the animal (1111 Magalhães ALR, Teodoro AL, Oliveira LP, Gois GC, Campos FS, Andrade AP, Melo A AS, Nascimento DB, Silva WA. Chemical composition, fractionation of carbohydrates and nitrogen compounds, ruminal degradation kinetics, and in vitro gas production of cactus pear genotypes. Ci. Anim. Bras. 2021;22:e-69338 https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-6891v22e-69338
https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-6891v22e-69...
). Compared to other feeds, the fiber content in spineless cactus is low, mainly the lignin-cellulose fraction, and the percentage of soluble carbohydrates is high (3131 Costa RG, Treviño IH, Medeiros GR, Medeiros AN, Gonzaga Neto S, Azevedo PS, Pinto TF. Feeding behavior and performance of sheep fed cactus in substitution of corn. R. Bras. Zootec. 2013;42:785-791. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982013001100004
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982013...
,3232 Nefzaoui A, Ben Salem H. Opuntiae: a strategic fodder and efficient tool to combat desertification in the wana region. 2003.Disponível em <http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/PUBLICAT/Cactusnt/cactus2.htm> Acessado em: 04 de maio de 2023.
http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/PUBLI...
). However, although soluble carbohydrates are rapidly and extensively fermented in the rumen, fermentation characteristics among spineless cactus differ, and are largely related to the presence of organic acids. Digestion of pectin, which is more present in spineless cactus, for example, results in less lactic acid production (3333 Strobel HJ, Russel JB. Effect of pH and energy spilling on bacterial protein synthesis by carbohydrate-limited cultures of mixed rumen bacteria. J. Dairy Sci. 1986; 69:2941-2947.,3434 Morales-Martínez Y, López-Cuellar MR, Chavarría-Hernández N, Rodríguez-Hernández AI. Rheological behaviour of acetylated pectins from cactus pear fruits (Opuntia albicarpa and O. matudae). Food Hydrocol. 2018;85(1):110-119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodhyd.2018.07.009
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodhyd.2018.0...
) than starch (soluble carbohydrate) present in large amounts in corn, which may explain the fact that spineless cactus OEM did not allow ADG like ground corn. HCY and CCY are within the range of values (40% to 50%) normally found for lambs (3535 Macías-Cruz U, Saavedra OR, Correa-Calderón A, Mellado M, Torrentera NG, Chay-Canul A, López-Baca MA, Avendaño-Reyes L. Feedlot growth, carcass characteristics and meat quality of hair breed male lambs exposed to seasonal heat stress (winter vs. summer) in an arid climate. Meat Sci.2020; 169: 108202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2020.108202
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2020.1...
,3636 Rego FCA, Lima LD, Baise J, Gasparini MJ, Eleodoro JI, Santos MD, Zundth M. Desempenho, características da carcaça e da carne de cordeiros confinados com níveis crescentes de bagaço de laranja em substituição ao milho. Ci. Anim. Bras. 2019; 20: 1-12 https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-6891v20e-50159
https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-6891v20e-50...
).

The cost/kg/lamb of the diet with ground corn at the end of 75 experimental days showed a total cost of feeding 10% higher when compared to diets with cactus pear and OEM. However, diet containing OEM cactus species presented a better cost than the others. The cost of production with the OEM was promising, since the cost of feed was lower, because of the cost of kg of spineless cactus being lower than the ground corn, providing better profitability (3737 Santos RD, Neves ALA, Santos DC, Pereira LGR, Gonçalves LC, Ferreira AL, Sollenberger LE . Divergence in nutrient concentration, in vitro degradation and gas production potential of spineless cactus genotypes selected for insect resistance The Journal of Agricultural Science,2018;156 (3): 450-456. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S002185961800031X
https://doi.org/10.1017/S002185961800031...
). There was a higher cost of the diet (10%) with ground corn for carcass production, compared to other diets (US$ 0.42 kg/DM).

There was no significant effect regarding replacing ground corn by spineless cactus species on the weight and yield of the main commercial carcass cuts (leg, loin and shoulder). This behavior may be due to the similarity of the body weight of the slaughtered animals. Breast yield was higher for diet with "Gigante" cactus compared OEM, demonstrating that the inclusion of spineless cactus in the diet influenced this cut characterized as third, providing more non-fiber carbohydrates and not compromising the quality of expensive cuts. In this way, the optimal weight for each cut will be the one in which its value is maximum, both for the producer and consumer, mainly in relation to the proportion of cuts that becomes a factor in determining its commercial value (3838 Oliveira JPF, de Andrade Ferreira M, Alves AMSV, de Melo ACC, de Andrade IB, Urbano SA, Barros Melo TT. Carcass characteristics of lambs fed spineless cactus as a replacement for sugarcane. Asian-Austral. J. Anim Sci. 2018; 31(4): 529 doi: 10.5713/ajas.17.0375
https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.17.0375...
).

The b* content in the meat of animals fed with spineless cactus Gigante species as well as the ground corn reflects the greater weight gain in these animals, which promoted greater fat deposits. Lambs received a diet rich in energy and carotenoids, such as ground corn and Gigante spineless species (4141 Meléndez-Martínez AJ, Mandić AI, Bantis F, Böhm V, Borge GIA, Brnčić M, Bysted A, Cano MP, Dias MG, Elgersma A, Fikselová M, García-Alonso J, Giuffrida D, Gonçalves VSS, Hornero-Méndez D, Kljak K, Lavelli V, Manganaris GA, Mapelli-Brahm P, Marounek M, Olmedilla-Alonso B, Periago-Castón MJ, Pintea A, Sheehan JJ, Tumbas Šaponjac V, Valšíková-Frey M, Meulebroek L. Van O’Brien N. A comprehensive review on carotenoids in foods and feeds: status quo, applications, patents, and research needs. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 2022; 62:1999-2049. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.1867959
https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.18...
) which is stored in the adipose tissue, intra and intramuscular in the meat, which, in turn, are mainly responsible for the yellow hue observed in lamb meat, explaining the increase in the b* parameter, showing that lamb meat with higher scores indicate that the red hue is closer to the yellow region (4242 Bressan MC, Oda SHI, Cardoso M das G, Miguel GZ, Freitas RTF de, Vieira JO, Faria PB, Savian TV, Ferrão SPB. Fat acids composition of the capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris L. 1766) commercial cuts. Ci agrotecnol 2004;28:1352-1359. https://doi.org/10.1590/s1413-70542004000600018
https://doi.org/10.1590/s1413-7054200400...
). The meat color index is one of the most valued parameters at the time of purchase, representing an important sensory quality factor due to its association with the freshness of the meat (3939 Pellegrini LGD, Richards, NSPDS, Mello RDO, Venturini RS, Carvalho S. Propriedades físico-químicas da carne de cordeiros confinados com diferentes níveis de caroço de algodão na dieta. Revista Ciê.Agron. 2020: 51. https://doi.org/10.5935/1806-6690.20200036.
https://doi.org/10.5935/1806-6690.202000...
). The values of luminosity (L*) differed between OEM and diets, which could indicate that the diets with this variety were more available, influencing this characteristic, since it is one of the factors that change the color of meat is the diet (4040 Esteves GIF, Peripolli V, Menezes AM, Louvandini H, Silva AF, Cardoso CC, McManus C. Características de carcaça e qualidade da carne de ovelhas de descarte em diferentes idades. Ci. Anim. Bras. 2018:19. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982009000700023
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-3598200900...
).

The instrumental parameters of water holding capacity (WHC), cooking weight loss (CWL) and shear force (SF) were not affected by the diet this occurred due to the pH values being normal in slaughter, obtaining average recommended values for lamb meat, which were 1.76 kgf/cm2 SF, 31.64% for WHC and 74.31% for CWL (4141 Meléndez-Martínez AJ, Mandić AI, Bantis F, Böhm V, Borge GIA, Brnčić M, Bysted A, Cano MP, Dias MG, Elgersma A, Fikselová M, García-Alonso J, Giuffrida D, Gonçalves VSS, Hornero-Méndez D, Kljak K, Lavelli V, Manganaris GA, Mapelli-Brahm P, Marounek M, Olmedilla-Alonso B, Periago-Castón MJ, Pintea A, Sheehan JJ, Tumbas Šaponjac V, Valšíková-Frey M, Meulebroek L. Van O’Brien N. A comprehensive review on carotenoids in foods and feeds: status quo, applications, patents, and research needs. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 2022; 62:1999-2049. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.1867959
https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.18...
). Therefore, based on this value the meat of the lambs in this study can be considered tender, as it is below 2 kgf/cm2 which can result in high acceptance by the consumer (4242 Bressan MC, Oda SHI, Cardoso M das G, Miguel GZ, Freitas RTF de, Vieira JO, Faria PB, Savian TV, Ferrão SPB. Fat acids composition of the capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris L. 1766) commercial cuts. Ci agrotecnol 2004;28:1352-1359. https://doi.org/10.1590/s1413-70542004000600018
https://doi.org/10.1590/s1413-7054200400...
). These results can be explained due to the higher levels of fat in the carcass, since they provide lower losses during cooking, resulting in more succulent meats, because the fat in the meat acts as a barrier to moisture loss (4343 Silva Sobrinho AGD, Purchas RW, Kadim IT, Yamamoto SM. Características de qualidade da carne de ovinos de diferentes genótipos e idades ao abate. Rev. Bras. Zootecn.2005; 34 (3): 1070-1078.).

5. Conclusion

Spineless cactus species Gigante can replace ground corn as a source of energy in diets for finishing lambs because it significantly improves the financial income for the producer without changing the ADG, DMI, ingestive behavior and yield of commercial cuts. Lambs fed spineless cactus Orelha de Elefante Mexicana species showed lower weight gain and meat lipid deposition yields when compared to Gigante and ground corn.

Data availability

The authors declare that all the data and materials used in this study comply with field standards and available on demand.

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Brazil), the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), and the Federal University of Bahia through facilities support.

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    » https://doi.org/10.1017/S002185961800031X
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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    18 July 2023
  • Date of issue
    2023

History

  • Received
    18 Feb 2023
  • Accepted
    03 May 2023
  • Published
    05 June 2023
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