1. The effects of defaunation of the rumen of cattle on low-protein diets was studied using animals given free access to a basal diet of liquid molasses and 1500 g oaten straw/head per d. These diets induced moderate numbers of protozoa in the rumen.
2. Nonyl phenol ethoxylate (trade name teric GN9) was used for defaunation; 100 g teric GN9 was found to be sufficient to eliminate protozoa from the rumen.
3. In cattle given the basal diet without bypass protein supplementation, defaunation had no effect on growth rates. Addition of 240 g of a feed pellet containing bypass protein increased growth rate significantly. Growth rates were significantly increased by 43 % in cattle on the higher protein intake and where protozoa were removed. Intake of molasses was apparently stimulated by a protein supplementation but not by defaunation and this finding is discussed.
4. The results demonstrate that in cattle given a molasses-based diet, low in bypass protein, growth rates can be stimulated by defaunation without an effect on feed intake, the main effect apparently arising through an increased efficiency of utilization of feed.