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A comparative study of ruminal activity in Churra and Merino sheep offered alfalfa hay

  • M. J. Ranilla (a1), M. D. Carro (a1), C. Valdés (a1), F. J. Giráldez (a2) and S. López (a1)...

Abstract

A study was carried out to compare the fermentation parameters and kinetics of digestion of a range of different foods in the rumen of two breeds of sheep (Churra and Merino). Ten mature sheep (five Churra and five Merino), each fitted with a rumen cannula, were used in this study. In situ rumen degradability of both dry matter (DM) and cell wall was greater in Churra than in Merino sheep, the breed differences being significant for most of the foods used in the study (P < 0·05). These differences were greater when the foods had a higher cell wall concentration and this could be related to differences in the ruminal environment. However, when the foods were incubated with rumen fluid their in vitro organic matter (OM) degradability was similar in both breeds. Rumen pH was higher (P < 0·05) and ammonia concentrations were lower (P < 0·05) in Churra than in Merino sheep. Rumen volatile fatty acid concentrations tended to be higher in Merino than in Churra sheep, though differences were only significant just before feeding (P < 0·05). The ratio acetate: propionate was higher in the Churra than Merino breed before and 12 h after feeding (P < 0·05). Protozoa numbers in rumen liquid were similar for both genotypes. The greater degradation of forages in the rumen of Churra sheep is discussed in relation to the possible higher activity of fibre-degrading micro-organisms and the greater buffering capacity of the rumen contents against fermentation acids, which could result in more favourable conditions for the microbial degradation of foods in the rumen.

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Keywords

A comparative study of ruminal activity in Churra and Merino sheep offered alfalfa hay

  • M. J. Ranilla (a1), M. D. Carro (a1), C. Valdés (a1), F. J. Giráldez (a2) and S. López (a1)...

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