Performance and ruminal protozoa in lambs with chromium supplementation.
ABSTRACT The effects of chromium picolinate (CrPic) oral supplementation on the performance and ruminal protozoa population in sheep was investigated. Twenty-four male lambs were treated with four different levels of CrPic: placebo, 0.250, 0.375 and 0.500mg of chromium/animal/day during 84 days. The base ration was Panicum maximum cv Massai hay and concentrate. Feed intake was measured three times a week. Lambs were weighed every 2 weeks. Ruminal content was sampled five times during the trial to quantify ruminal protozoa. No difference (p>0.05) between treatments was recorded for any parameter measured: initial and final mean body weight, dry matter intake, daily gain and total body weight gain. There was a negative linear relationship between Cr supplementation and protozoa count (p=0.0013) with no additional decrease when CrPic supplemental levels were higher than 0.375mg/day. Therefore, Cr supplementation must be carried out carefully and more studies need to address stressed animals or possible toxic effects of Cr in the animal itself or to the ruminal protozoa population.