Skip to main content Accessibility help

Comparative digestibility and digesta flow kinetics in two breeds of sheep

  • M. J. Ranilla (a1), S. López (a1), F. J. Giráldez (a1), C. Valdés (a1) and M. D. Carro (a1)...


A study was conducted to compare apparent digestibility and digesta flow kinetics in the whole digestive tract in two breeds of sheep (Churra and Merino) offered alfalfa hay at about maintenance. Ten mature sheep (five Churra and five Merino) each fitted with a rumen cannula were used in the study. Apparent digestibility was determined by total faecal collection. Liquid (Co-EDTA) and solid (Cr-mordanted fibre) markers were used to estimate rumen volumes and digesta flows. There were no significant differences between Churra and Merino sheep either in dry-matter or fibre apparent digestibility (P > 0·05). Liquid and solid passage rates did not differ between breeds and the estimated total mean retention times were similar for both genotypes. The volume of liquid in the rumen was proportionately 0·14 greater in Churra than in Merino sheep, although the difference was not significant. Estimated saliva secretion was greater in Churra (11·6 (s.e. 0·77) I/day) than in Merino sheep (10·5 (s.e. 0·72) I/day) but the difference did not reach statistical significance. Solid contents of the rumen did not differ between breeds. Rumen particle density was lowest at 2 h after feeding and remained stable at other sampling times, with no significant differences between breeds. There were no significant differences between breeds in the urinary excretion of total purine derivatives but urinary excretion of allantoin and microbial nitrogen supply tended to be higher in Merino than in Churra sheep (P < 0·20). This was attributed to the smaller rumen pool size of Merino (8·0 (s.e. 0·62) kg) compared with Churra sheep (9·2 (s.e. 0·63) kg). The study indicated that there were no apparent breed differences between Churra and Merino sheep in digestibility and digesta passage when they were given a good-quality forage at a low level of intake.



Hide All
Amor, J. J. 1994. Estudio de la pauta diaria de ingestión y rumia en ovejas en relation con distintos factores [Diurnal patterns of intake and rumination in sheep as affected by different factors.] Tesis Doctoral, Universidad de León.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists. 1980. Official methods of analysis, 13th edition. Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington, DC.
Baile, C. A. and Pfander, W. H. 1967. Ration density as a factor controlling food intake in ruminants Journal of Dairy Science 50: 7780.
Balcells, J., Guada, J. A., Peiró, J. M. and Parker, D. S. 1992. Simultaneous determination of allantoin and oxipurines in biological fluids by high-performance liquid chromatography Journal of Chromatography 575:153157.
Carro, M. D. 1989. Utilizaćion digestiva e ingestión voluntaria de diferentes henos por el ganado ovino [Digestive utilisation and voluntary intake of different hay i n sheep.] Tesis Doctoral, Universidad de Leon.
Chen, X. B., Chen, Y. K., Franklin, M. F., Ørskov, E. R. and Shand, W. J. 1992. The effect of feed intake and body weight on purine derivative excretion and microbial protein supply in sheep. Journal ofAnimal Science 70: 15341542.
Chen, X. B., Mejia, A. T., Kyle, D. J. and Ørskov, E. R. 1995. Evaluation of the use of the purine derivative: creatinine ratio in the spot urine and plasma samples as an index of microbial protein supply in ruminants: studies in sheep Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 125:137143.
Church, D. C. 1988. Salivary function and production. In The ruminant animal: digestive physiology and nutrition (ed Church, D. C.), pp. 117124. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA.
Cook, D. I. 1995. Salivary secretion in ruminants. In Ruminant physiology: digestion, metabolism, growth and reproduction (ed. Engelhardt, W. V., Leonhard-Marek, S., Breves, G. and Giesecke, D.), pp. 153172. Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart.
Frutos, P., Revesado, P. R., Mantecon, A. R., Gonzalez, J. S. and Carro, M. D. 1992. Proportion of digestive tract: a comparison of two Spanish sheep genotypes (Churra vs. Merino). Nutrition Clinique et Metabolisme 6:173174.
Giraldez, F. J., Lopez, S., Gonzalez, J. S. and Mantecon, A. R. 1994. Comparative digestibility of fresh herbage intake cut at two maturity stages by two breeds of sheep. Animal Production 58: 452453.
Givens, D. I. and Moss, A. R. 1994. Effect of breed, age and body condition of sheep on the measurements of apparent digestibility of dried grass Animal Feed Science and Technology 46:155162.
Goering, M. K. and Van Soest, P. J. 1970. Forage fiber analysis (apparatus, reagents, procedures and some applications). Agricultural handbook no. 379. Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Washington, DC.
Grovum, W. L. and Williams, V. J. 1973. Rate of passage of digesta in sheep. 4. Passage of marker through the alimentary tract and the biological relevance of rate constants derived from the changes in concentration of marker in faeces. British Journal ofNutrition 30: 313329.
Hespell, R. B. and Bryant, M. P. 1979. Efficiency of rumen microbial growth: influence of some theoretical and experimental factors on Y-ATP Journal of Animal Science 49: 16401659.
Hofmann, R. R. and Steward, D. R. M. 1972. Grazer or browser: a classification based on stomach structure and feedings' habits of East African ruminants Mammalia 36: 226240.
Hungate, R. E., Phillips, G. D., Hungate, D. P. and MacGregor, A. 1960. A comparison of the rumen fermentation in European and zebu cattle Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 54:196201.
Hunter, R. A. and Siebert, B. D. 1985. Utilization of low-quality roughage by Bos taurus and Bos indicus cattle. 1. Rumen digestion. British Journal ofNutrition 53: 637648.
Lechner-Doll, M., Kaske, M. and Engelhardt, W. V. 1991. Factors affecting the mean retention time of particles in the forestomach of ruminants and camelids. In Physiological aspects of digestion and metabolism in ruminants (ed. Sasaki, T. Y. and Kawashima, R.), pp. 455482. Academic Press, San Diego.
Lopez, S., Hovell, F. D. De B. and MacLeod, N. A. 1994. Osmotic pressure, water kinetics and volatile fatty acid absorption in the rumen of sheep sustained by intragastric infusions British Journal ofNutrition 71:153168.
Mann, D. L., Goode, L. and Pond, K. R. 1987. Voluntary-intake, gain, digestibility, rate of passage and gastrointestinal tract fill in tropical and temperate breeds of sheep Journal ofAnimal Science 64: 880886.
Ottenstein, D. M. and Bartley, D. A. 1971. Separation of free acids C2-C5 in dilute aqueous solution column. technology. Journal ofChromatographic Science 9:673681.
Ranilla, M. J., Carro, M. D., Valdes, C., Giraldez, F. J. and Lopez, S. 1997. A comparative study of ruminal activity in Churra and Merino sheep fed alfalfa hay Animal Science 65: 121128.
Revesado, P. R., Mantecón, A. R., Frutos, P. and Gonzalez, J. S. 1994. Comparative studies of diet selection by Churra and Merino genotypes grazing on a hill shrub community. In Livestock production and land use in hills and uplands (ed. Lawrence, T. L. J., Parker, D. S. and Rowlinson, P.), occasional publication, British Society of Animal Production, no. 18, 109110.
Statistical Analysis Systems Institute. 1993. SAS companion for the Microsoft Windows Environment, version 6. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC.
Steel, R. G. C. and Torrie, J. H. 1981. Principles and procedures of statistics, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill, New York.
Uden, P., Colucci, P. E. and Van Soest, P. J. 1980. Investigation of chromium, cerium and cobalt as markers in digesta. Rates of passage studies. Journal of the Science Food and Agriculture 31: 625632.
Welch, J. G. 1986. Physical parameters of fiber affecting passage from the rumen Journal of Dairy Science 69: 27502754.
Weyreter, H. and Engelhardt, W. V. 1984. Adaptation of Heidschnucken, Merino and Blackhead sheep to a fibrous roughage diet of poor quality. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 64: (supplement) 152153.


Comparative digestibility and digesta flow kinetics in two breeds of sheep

  • M. J. Ranilla (a1), S. López (a1), F. J. Giráldez (a1), C. Valdés (a1) and M. D. Carro (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed