17 May 2022

Sida silage (Virginia fanpetals) in beef cattle nutrition

Present-day expectations regarding livestock and animal nutrition aim to improve animal performance and meat quality focusing on sustainability, animal welfare and consumer preferences. A study was carried out to determine if the composition of a silage containing Virginia fanpetals (Sida hermaphrodita) could affect the performance and meat quality of Holstein bulls.

Sida silage (Virginia fanpetals) in beef cattle nutrition

Sida silage presents an interesting alternative in beef cattle nutrition. Present-day expectations regarding livestock and animal nutrition aim to improve animal performance and meat quality focusing on sustainability, animal welfare and consumer preferences.

The aim of the following study was to determine whether silage composition affects the fattening performance and meat quality of Holstein bulls. 

Supplementation with Virginia fanpetals increased: fat content of the carcass, water retention capacity, the intensity of meat flavor, and decreased moisture content of the longissimus lumborum (LL) muscle.


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Virginia fanpetals (Sida hermaphrodita)

It is a herb that belongs to the Malvaceae family, which has the potential of being included in cattle diets. This plant is native to the United States of America, and has the capacity to grow in soils with low nutrient requirements. It also has a high tolerance to droughts and can produce 10-20 t of dry matter (MS) per year.

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Sida leaves  have a high protein content (17-28% based on DM) which is similar to that of alfalfa.





The biologically active compounds of Virginia fanpetals are endogenous (an important component of muscle tissue). These compounds include histidine dipeptides such as carnosine and anserine.




Carnosine (β-alanyl-lhistidine) is synthesized from amino acids such as β-alanine and L-histidine as a result of an endo-energetic reaction catalyzed by carnosine synthetase, while anserine (β-alanyl-1-N-methyl-histidine), derived from carnosine, is formed as a result of metabolic changes in the methylation process.


Carnosine and anserine reduce heavy metal toxicity and may exhibit chelating properties especially towards cobalt, zinc, iron and copper. Carnosine is considered a natural neuroprotective agent, which regulates the concentration of zinc ions in the central nervous system as a result of copper chelation.

Materials and methods

14 Holstein-Friesian bulls were evaluated and randomly assigned to one of the two treatments



Treatment with these diets lasted 7 months. The quality of the longissimus lumborum (LL) and semimembranosus (SM) muscles was evaluated after 14 days. The bulls were slaughtered before 24 months of age, with a final body weight of 650 kg to 700 kg (which ensures the best carcass characteristics in this type of cattle).



Inclusion of Sida silage in bull diets had a positive influence on:




Higher concentrations of anserine were observed in the LL muscle, which could lead to the conclusion that it was specific to this muscle.

The LL and SM muscles differed in most physicochemical attributes, including chemical composition, color, leukocytes, water retention capacity, and Warner-Bratzler Shear Force (WBSF) values. However, they were relatively similar in terms of sensory quality attributes.

Such findings indicate that the diet applied within this study is suitable for Holstein-Friesian bulls. However, it is highly recommended to combine Sida silage with grass silage in order to increase anserine concentrations in beef. Considering the fact that this bioactive compound can positively affect human body functions.




Source: ScienceDirect. Sida silage in cattle nutrition – effects on the fattening performance of Holstein-Friesian bulls and beef quality 2021.

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