The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of inclusion of condensed tannins (CT) from black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) on feed intake, ruminal protozoa population, ruminal fermentation, and nutrient digestibility in Jersey steers. Five ruminally-cannulated steers were used in a 5x5 Latin square design, with five periods of 20 days each (14 days for diet adaptation and six days for sample collection per period). Treatments were composed of dietary inclusion levels of condensed tannins at 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 g/kg of diet dry matter. Intakes of dry matter, organic matter, ether extract, crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, and total digestible nutrients were not affected by condensed tannins. The ruminal pH was reduced linearly with tannin levels. Ruminal ammonia nitrogen concentration was not affected by tannins. Tannins reduced the molar proportion of acetate and did not affect the ruminal protozoal population, which might be related to the low doses used. Digestibilities of dry matter, organic matter, and neutral detergent fiber were not altered; however, there was a linear reduction in crude protein digestibility. Based on these results, CT extracts from black wattle are not recommended for improving nutrient utilization in steers at the tested levels.
Keywords: additives; digestibility; intake; polyphenols; secondary compounds.