Effects of exogenous enzymes on ruminal fermentation and degradability of alfalfa hay and rice straw

H. E. Yang, Y. S. Son, K. A. Beauchemin

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21 Citations (Scopus)


This study was conducted to evaluate the use of exogenous enzymes as a potential means of improving the ruminal digestion (i.e., degradability) of alfalfa hay and rice straw. Twenty six enzyme-additives were examined in terms of protein concentration and enzymic activities on model substrates. The exogenous enzymes contained ranges of endoglucanase, xylanase, β-glucanase, α-amylase, and protease activities. Six of the enzyme additives were chosen for further investigation. The enzyme additives and a control without enzyme were applied to mature quality alfalfa hay substrate and subsequently incubated in rumen batch cultures. Five of the enzyme additives (CE2, CE13, CE14, CE19, and CE24) increased total gas production (GP) at 48 h of incubation compared to the control (p<0.05). The two additives (CE14 and CE24) having the greatest positive effects on alfalfa hay dry matter, neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and acid detergent fibre (ADF) degradability were further characterized for their ability to enhance degradation of low quality forages. The treatments CE14, CE24, a 50:50 combination of CE14 and CE24 (CE14+24), and control (no enzyme) were applied to mature alfalfa hay and rice straw. For alfalfa hay, application of the two enzyme additives, alone and in combination, increased GP compared to the control at 48 h fermentation (p<0.05), whereas only CE14 and CE14+24 treatments improved GP from rice straw (p<0.05). Rumen fluid volatile fatty acid concentrations throughout the incubation of rice straw were analyzed. Acetate concentration was slightly lower (p<0.05) for CE14×CE24 compared to the control, although individually, CE14 and CE24 acetate concentrations were not different from the control. Increases (p<0.05) in alfalfa hay NDF degradability measured at 12 and 48 h of incubation occurred only for CE14 (at 12 h) and for CE14+24 (at 12 and 48 h). Similarly, ADF degradability increased (p<0.05) with CE14 and CE14+24. As for rice straw, increased DM degradability was observed at 12 and 48 h of incubation for all enzyme treatments with an exception for CE14 at 12 h. The degradability of NDF was improved by all the enzyme treatments at either incubation time, while ADF degradability was only enhanced at 48 h. Overall, the enzymes led to enhanced digestion of mature alfalfa and there was evidence of improved digestibility of rice straw, an even lower quality forage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalAsian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan


  • Alfalfa
  • Enzyme additives
  • Rice straw
  • Ruminal digestion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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