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Evaluation of long-chain alcohols as diet composition markers in goats grazing heathland areas

  • L. M. M. Ferreira (a1), R. Celaya (a2), A. S. Santos (a1), C. M. V. Guedes (a1), M. A. M. Rodrigues (a1), R. W. Mayes (a3) and K. Osoro (a2)...

Abstract

An experiment was conducted to assess the potential of long-chain alcohols (LCOH), in alternative or combined with alkanes and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), as faecal markers to estimate the diet composition of goats grazing heathland vegetation with associated improved pastures. A total of seven diets were offered across the grazing season. The diets were composed of mixtures of herb species (Lolium perenne and Trifolium repens) and woody species (Erica spp., Calluna vulgaris and Ulex gallii) in an attempt to simulate diet selection of goats on these complex vegetation areas. The diet composition was estimated using LCOH markers alone or combined with alkanes, LCFA and alkanes+LCFA, by least square optimization procedures. The data showed large differences between plant species in their LCOH profile. Generally, plant species showed higher LCOH concentrations than those of alkanes and lower than LCFA markers. Faecal recovery of LCOH was incomplete and increased in a linear manner (P < 0.001) with the carbon-chain length, and was influenced by diet composition and its digestibility. The diet composition estimates based on LCOH alone were more accurate (P < 0.05) than those using alkanes or LCFA alone. Results showed that the combination of LCOH with alkanes, LCFA and alkanes+LCFA resulted in more accurate (P < 0.05) estimates of diet composition, indicating that LCOH provided different discriminatory information to that of alkanes and LCFA, helping in the discrimination of the plant species used in this experiment. Results indicate that correction of faecal LCOH concentrations to incomplete faecal recovery is necessary to obtain more accurate estimates of diet composition. Nevertheless, it seemed that the use of a less accurate recovery correction on LCOH markers had a lower impact on the accuracy of estimates than that of alkanes and LCFA.

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Corresponding author

E-mail: lmf@utad.pt

References

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Keywords

Evaluation of long-chain alcohols as diet composition markers in goats grazing heathland areas

  • L. M. M. Ferreira (a1), R. Celaya (a2), A. S. Santos (a1), C. M. V. Guedes (a1), M. A. M. Rodrigues (a1), R. W. Mayes (a3) and K. Osoro (a2)...

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