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Hull, ferulic acid, para-coumaric acid content and particle size characteristics of various barley varieties in relation to nutrient availability in ruminants



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The fibrous barley hull is the main reason for barley’s low available energy relative to corn. Barley grain contains hydroxycinnamic acids (mainly ferulic acid (FA) and ñ-coumaric acid (PCA)) which are cross-linked to polysaccharides, therefore, limit cell wall degradability in the rumen. Paricle size of barley grain also affects the digestion of barley in the rumen. The objective of this study was to evaluate a set of barley varieties grown in Saskatchewan (Canada) and provided by Crop Development Center (CDC, Canada) and find a variety with low hull, FA, PCA and fiber content, while maintaining large particle size after mechanical processing, and having high nutrient availability. Three studies were conducted to determine the content of barley hull, FA, PCA, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and acid detergent lignin (ADL) in various barley varities. Mean/median particle size of the barley grain after coarse dry-rolling was also determined. The relationships among these parameters and the digestibility of barley grain in ruminants were then assessed. Six barley varieties (AC Metcalfe, CDC Dolly, McLeod, CDC Helgason, CDC Trey and CDC Cowboy) from samples grown in three years (2003, 2004 and 2005) were evaluated in each study. The first study determined the original content of barley hull, FA, PCA, NDF, ADF, ADL, and mean/median particle size of barley grain and evaluated the effects of barley variety. The results showed barley variety had a significant impact on the chemical and physical profiles of barley grain, with CDC Helgason and CDC Dolly showing relatively lower content of barley hull, FA, PCA, NDF, ADF, ADL, hemicellulose and cellulose, and moderate mean/median particle size, whereas McLeod and CDC Cowboy showed the opposite. The second study involved two consecutive trials. Trial 1 was to assess differences in the in situ rumen degradability of dry matter (DM), FA, PCA, NDF, ADF and ADL at 12 and 24 h of rumen incubations. Results revealed that CDC Dolly consistently showed relatively lower rumen residues of DM, FA, PCA, NDF, ADF and ADL at 12 and 24 h, with McLeod being opposite. Barley variety displayed some effects on the digestibility of DM, FA, PCA, NDF, ADF and ADL at 12 and 24 h. Since CDC Dolly demonstrated relatively less content of hull, FA, PCA, NDF, ADF, ADL and mean/median particle size and higher rumen digestibility among the six barley varieties, while McLeod was the opposite, CDC Dolly and McLeod were selected for the third trial in order to compare differences in the rumen degradation kinetics of DM, FA and PCA. Trial 2 did not show significant differences in effective degradation of DM, FA, except for PCA. In general, CDC Dolly exhibited better degradability of DM, FA and PCA than McLeod. The third study analyzed the correlation and regression between the original content of barley hull, FA, PCA, NDF, ADF, ADL and mean/median particle size in barley grain and rumen residual content of the corresponding parameters at 12 and 24 h of rumen incubation. Results showed that FA content in barley grain had a predominantly negative effect on DM degradability, while barley hull content affected the degradability of NDF and ADF. In summary, the present studies show that hull and FA content in barley grain have negative effects on the degradability of barley grain in ruminants and also showed that CDC Dolly could be an ideal feed barley grain for ruminants due to its lower hull and FA content and higher rumen dry matter degradability.



Hull, para-Coumaric acid, Barley grain, Ferulic acid, Particle size



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Animal and Poultry Science


Animal and Poultry Science


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