• supplementation;
  • straw;
  • digestibility;
  • urea treatment;
  • gas production;
  • rumen fermentation


The in-vitro fermentation characteristics of untreated and 50 g litre−1 urea-treated finger millet (Eleusine coracana) straw with four supplements (urea, rice bran, cottonseed and groundnut cakes) at three different ratios of straw: supplement were investigated. Gas production was greater from treated than untreated straw; groundnut cake was the most rapidly fermented supplement followed by cottonseed cake and rice bran. Urea incubated alone inhibited gas production. Untreated and treated straws were incubated with 22, 30 and 37 g rumen degradable nitrogen from the supplements per kg organic matter digested. Significant (P < 0.05) positive interactive effects on gas production were observed with untreated straw at all three levels of groundnut cake supplementation after 12, 52 and 166 h incubation. Similar interactions were observed for cottonseed cake supplementation of untreated straw and groundnut cake supplementation of treated straw, although statistical significance was not achieved for all supplementation levels at the three times for which data were analysed. No consistent significant interactive effects in gas production were observed between cottonseed cake and treated straw. Rice bran inhibited gas production after 12 h but, subsequently, had little effect on either type of straw. Urea inhibited the gas production from both straws at all three ratios of supplementation. Urea also significantly reduced dry matter disappearance of treated straw at two of three levels of urea supplementation. Interactive effects on gas production were most pronounced in the early stages fermentation and appeared to be related to the high content of highly fermentable material particularly in groundnut cake but also in cottonseed cake.