Potential benefits of amino acid supplementation for cervid performance and nutritional ecology, with special focus on lysine and methionine: A review
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Deer farming is a thriving industry for venison, velvet antlers, trophy hunting, and other by-products. Feeding and nutrition are important factors for improving production performance, especially dietary protein and amino acids (AAs), as they are the main components of all tissues. Only a few studies on AA supplementation (Lys, Met, Arg) have been performed on cervids, which show positive effects on weight gain, ADG, feed-:gain ratio, plasma AAs, carcass weight, dressing percentage, yield of high-quality muscles, storage of internal fat during winter, DM and CP digestibility, plasma protein- and fat-related metabolite concentrations, antler burr perimeter, weight, length and mineralisation, velvet antler yield, rumen volatile fatty acids, and microbiome composition. All these effects are relevant for supporting the production of cervids products, from venison to velvet or trophy antlers, as well as their general performance and well-being of captive-bred cervids. The current available information suggests that AA supplementation can be especially interesting for animals fed low protein rations, and growing animals, but should be avoided in high rations and during winter, since it may promote the accumulation of internal fat. Potential effects on milk production and the concentrations of different hormones involved in the regulation of the antler cycle should be further explored.
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