Research done by M.L. Van Emon may give us some insight to ram fertility issues we have been seeing over the last several years. Antidotal stories of questionable rams associated with diets high in feed byproducts finally might have some research to back their stories.
Data was collected on 120 ram lambs that were substituted DDGS for corn at 0, 15 or 30% of the diet. The ram lambs were 90 days of age at the beginning of the trial and fed for 116 days.
- No significant change in final body weight across the treatments.
- No significant change of days on feed was noted.
- Increasing the percentage of DDGS increased the dry matter intake and Average Daily Gain.
- No significant changes in Carcass characteristics were noted.
- No significant difference in scrotal circumference was noted.
- No significant changes in testosterone levels were noted.
- Spermatozoa concentration decreased linearly as DDGS increased in the diet.
- No significant difference in semen motility was noted.
DDGS are known for having high and variable amounts of sulfur content. They have proven to be a valuable feed byproduct to the industry, but until more is learned about their possible side effects on semen production care should be taken to avoid feeding DDGS to the ram pen. The author speculates that the sulfur content may alter the selenium and copper utilization and absorption.