The effect of high polyphenol oxidase grass silage on metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids and nitrogen across the rumen of beef steers

M. R F Lee*, V. J. Theobald, N. Gordon, M. Leyland, J. K S Tweed, R. Fychan, N. D. Scollan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) activity in red clover (Trifolium pratense) has been reported to reduce both proteolysis and lipolysis, resulting in greater N use efficiency and protection of PUFA across the rumen. Although high levels of PPO have been reported in grasses such as cocksfoot (orchard grass; Dactylis glomerata), no in vivo research has determined whether grass PPO elicits the same response as red clover PPO. To test the hypothesis that silage ensiled from grass with high levels of PPO protects N and PUFA across the rumen, 6 steers with ruminal and duodenal cannulas were offered cocksfoot silage (CO; high-PPO grass), perennial ryegrass silage (PR; Lolium perenne; low-PPO grass), or red clover silage (RC; high-PPO control) at 16 g DM/ kg BW daily with the experiment consisting of two 3 × 3 Latin squares with 21-d periods, consisting of 12 d of diet adaptation, 6 d of duodenal marker infusion, 2 d of duodenal sampling, and 1 d of ruminal sampling. All silages were well preserved, with DM of 34.4, 55.3, and 45.4% for CO, PR, and RC. Activity of PPO in silages was low due to deactivation but was greater in CO than either PR or RC (0.15 vs. 0.05 and 0.08 μkatal/g DM). Protein-bound phenol (mg/g DM) as a measure of the degree of oxidation and an indication of PPO protection was greatest for RC (15.9) but comparable for PR (10.1) and CO (12.2). Biohydrogenation of C18 PUFA was significantly lower on RC compared to the 2 grass silages with CO greater than PR. Despite lower levels of total fatty acid intake and subsequent duodenal flow, CO resulted in greater levels of phytanic acid and total branched and odd chain fatty acids in duodenal digesta than RC or PR. Ruminal ammonia concentration was greatest for RC, with no difference between the grasses. Duodenal flow of microbial N and efficiency of microbial protein synthesis were lowest for CO and comparable for RC and PR. The CO (high-grass PPO) did not result in elevated levels of C18 PUFA escaping the rumen or improve efficiency of total N transfer through the rumen compared to PR. The RC resulted in a greater flow of N and nonmicrobial N to the duodenum than the 2 grasses with PR greater than CO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5076-5087
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Beef steers
  • Cocksfoot silage
  • Nitrogen metabolism
  • Polyphenol oxidase
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids


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