4 years ago

Serum metabolites associated with feed efficiency in black angus steers

Shawn R. Campagna, Robert I. Mihelic, Zachary D. McFarlane, Phillip R. Myer, Brynn H. Voy, Joshua B. Powers, Brooke A. Clemmons, Emily R. Cope, Emily A. Melchior, J. Travis Mulliniks, Mallory M. Embree, Ronique C. Beckford



Improving feed utilization in cattle is required to reduce input costs, increase production, and ultimately improve sustainability of the beef cattle industry. Characterizing metabolic differences between efficient and non-efficient animals will allow stakeholders to identify more efficient cattle during backgrounding.


This study used an untargeted metabolomics approach to determine differences in serum metabolites between animals of low and high residual feed intake.


Residual feed intake was determined for 50 purebred Angus steers and 29 steers were selected for the study steers based on low versus high feed efficiency. Blood samples were collected from steers and analyzed using untargeted metabolomics via mass spectrometry. Metabolite data was analyzed using Metaboanalyst, visualized using orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis, and p-values derived from permutation testing. Non-esterified fatty acids, urea nitrogen, and glucose were measured using commercially available calorimetric assay kits. Differences in metabolites measured were grouped by residual feed intake was measured using one-way analysis of variance in SAS 9.4.


Four metabolites were found to be associated with differences in feed efficiency. No differences were found in other serum metabolites, including serum urea nitrogen, non-esterified fatty acids, and glucose.


Four metabolites that differed between low and high residual feed intake have important functions related to nutrient utilization, among other functions, in cattle. This information will allow identification of more efficient steers during backgrounding.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11306-017-1282-z

DOI: 10.1007/s11306-017-1282-z

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