Estimation of the digestible energy of ruminant feedstuffs by the combined bag technique

A. Arieli*, K. Shahar, S. J. Mabjeesh, S. Zamwel, D. Sklan

*Corresponding author for this work

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7 Scopus citations


The combined bag technique was used to estimate digestible energy of ruminant feedstuffs. Samples of corn, barley, and sorghum grains; soybean and sunflower meals; corn and wheat silages; and vetch and wheat hays were incubated in dacron bags in the rumens of dairy cattle for 3 to 72 h. Bags containing residues after 12 h of ruminal incubation were introduced into the duodenum and recovered from feces. Feeds and ruminal and intestinal residues were analyzed for dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber, and non-structural carbohydrates. The effective ruminal degradability of OM was higher in grains (639 g/kg of DM) and in protein supplements (609 g/kg of DM) than in forages (373 g/kg of DM). For grains and forages, carbohydrates contributed most of the degradable OM in the rumen, but, in protein supplements, about 50% of the ruminally degradable OM originated from carbohydrate. For protein supplements, 54% of the OM that disappeared postruminally was CP, but, in the grains and forage ingredients, CP contributed less than 20% of the postruminal OM that disappeared. In grains and forages, 83% of total tract disappearance of OM was from carbohydrates. For protein supplements, CP contributed 50% to overall OM disappearance. The calculated energy equivalent of digested matter averaged among feeds was 4.71 kcal/g. A high correlation was found between digestible energy estimated by the combined bag technique and the respective National Research Council values. The combined bag technique is a useful tool for the estimation of digestible energy in feedstuffs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)566-573
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999


  • Combined bag technique
  • Digestible energy
  • Lactating cows


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