Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The potential application of plant wax markers from alfalfa for estimating the total feed intake of sheep

  • H. Zhang (a1), Y. P. Guo (a2), W. Q. Chen (a3), N. Liu (a2), S. L. Shi (a1), Y. J. Zhang (a1) (a2), L. Ma (a2) and J. Q. Zhou (a4)...

Abstract

Estimating the feed intake of grazing herbivores is critical for determining their nutrition, overall productivity and utilization of grassland resources. A 17-day indoor feeding experiment was conducted to evaluate the potential use of Medicago sativa as a natural supplement for estimating the total feed intake of sheep. A total of 16 sheep were randomly assigned to four diets (four sheep per diet) containing a known amount of M. sativa together with up to seven forages common to typical steppes. The diets were: diet 1, M. sativa + Leymus chinensis + Puccinellia distans; diet 2, species in diet 1 + Phragmites australis; diet 3, species in diet 2 + Chenopodium album + Elymus sibiricus; and diet 4, species in diet 3 + Artemisia scoparia + Artemisia tanacetifolia. After faecal marker concentrations were corrected by individual sheep recovery, treatment mean recovery or overall recovery, the proportions of M. sativa and other dietary forages were estimated from a combination of alkanes and long-chain alcohols using a least-square procedure. Total intake was the ratio of the known intake of M. sativa to its estimated dietary proportion. Each dietary component intake was obtained using total intake and the corresponding dietary proportions. The estimated values were compared with actual values to assess the estimation accuracy. The results showed that M. sativa exhibited a distinguishable marker pattern in comparison to the other dietary forage species. The accuracy of the dietary composition estimates was significantly (P < 0.001) affected by both diet diversity and the faecal recovery method. The proportion of M. sativa and total intake across all diets could be accurately estimated using the individual sheep or the treatment mean recovery methods. The largest differences between the estimated and observed total intake were 2.6 g and 19.2 g, respectively, representing only 0.4% and 2.6% of the total intake. However, they were significantly (P < 0.05) biased for most diets when using the overall recovery method. Due to the difficulty in obtaining individual sheep recovery under field conditions, treatment mean recovery is recommended. This study suggests that M. sativa, a natural roughage instead of a labelled concentrate, can be utilized as a dietary supplement to accurately estimate the total feed intake of sheep indoors and further indicates that it has potential to be used in steppe grassland of northern China, where the marker patterns of M. sativa differ markedly from commonly occurring plant species.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Brosh, A, Henkin, Z, Rothman, SJ, Aharoni, Y, Orlov, A and Arieli, A 2003. Effects of faecal n-alkane recovery in estimates of diet composition. Journal of Agricultural Science 140, 93100.
Charmley, E and Dove, H 2007. Using plant wax markers to estimate diet composition and intakes of mixed forages in sheep by feeding a known amount of alkane-labelled supplement. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 58, 12151225.
Dove, H and Charmley, E 2008. Using the alkanes and long-chain alcohols of plant cuticular wax to estimate diet composition and the intakes of mixed forages in sheep consuming a known amount of alkane-labelled supplement. Animal 2, 14741485.
Dove, H and Mayes, RW 1991. The use of plant wax alkanes as marker substances in studies of the herbivores: a review. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 42, 913952.
Dove, H and Mayes, RW 2005. Using n-alkanes and other plant wax components to estimate intake, digestibility and diet composition of grazing/browsing sheep and goats. Small Ruminant Research 59, 123139.
Dove, H and Moore, AD 1995. Using a least-squares optimization procedure to estimate botanical composition based on the alkanes of plant cuticular wax. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 46, 15351544.
Dove, H and Oliván, M 1998. Using synthetic or beeswax alkanes for estimating supplement intake in sheep. Animal Production in Australia 22, 189192.
Elwert, C and Dove, H 2005. Estimation of roughage intake in sheep using a known daily intake of a labelled supplement. Animal Science 81, 4756.
Elwert, C, Dove, H and Rodehutscord, M 2008. Faecal alkane recoveries from multi-component diets and effects on estimates of diet composition in sheep. Animal 2, 125134.
Elwert, C, Kluth, H and Rodehutscord, M 2004. Effect of variable intake of alfalfa and wheat on faecal alkane recoveries and estimates of roughage intake in sheep. Journal of Agricultural Science 142, 213223.
Ferreira, LMM, Celaya, R, Santos, AS, Mayes, RW, Rodrigues, MAM and Osoro, K 2015. Application of long-chain alcohols as diet-composition markers in sheep fed on grass-white clover and heather-gorse plant species. Grass and Forage Science 70, 3043.
Ferreira, LMM, López López, C, Celaya, R, Osoro, K and Rodrigues, MAM 2018. Effects of animal species and diet composition on long-chain alcohol faecal recoveries and accuracy of subsequent diet composition estimates. Grass and Forage Science 73, 355367.
Gordon, IJ 1995. Animal-based techniques for grazing ecology research. Small Ruminant Research 16, 203214.
Holechek, JL, Vavra, M and Pieper, RD 1982. Botanical composition determination of range herbivore diets: a review. Journal of Range Management 35, 309315.
Horney, MR, Delcurto, T, Stamm, MM, Bailey, RK and Brandyberry, SD 1996. Early-vegetative tall fescue hay vs alfalfa hay as a supplement for cattle consuming low-quality roughages. Journal of Animal Science 74, 19591966.
Lin, LJ, Luo, HL, Wang, H, Zhang, YJ and Shu, B 2009. Evaluation of long-chain alcohols and fatty acids, in combination with alkanes, as markers in the estimation of the composition of four herbages in mixtures. Grass and Forage Science 64, 1925.
Lin, LJ, Luo, HL, Zhang, YJ and Shu, B 2007. The effects, in sheep, of dietary plant species and animal live weight on the faecal recovery rates of alkanes and the accuracy of intake and diet composition estimates obtained using alkanes as faecal markers. The Journal of Agricultural Science 145, 8794.
Lin, LJ, Zhu, XY, Jiang, C, Luo, HL, Wang, H, Zhang, YJ and Hong, FZ 2012. The potential use of n-alkanes, long-chain alcohols and long-chain fatty acids as diet composition markers: indoor validation with sheep and herbage species from the rangeland of Inner Mongolia of China. Animal 6, 449458.
Ma, L, Yuan, F, Liang, H and Rong, Y 2014. The effects of grazing management strategies on the vegetation, diet quality, intake and performance of free grazing sheep. Livestock Science 161, 185192.
Morais, JAS, Berchielli, TT, de Vega, A, Queiroz, MFS, Keli, A, Reis, RA, Bertipaglia, LMA and Souza, SF 2011. The validity of n-alkanes to estimate intake and digestibility in Nellore beef cattle fed a tropical grass (Brachiaria brizantha cv. Marandu). Livestock Science 135, 184192.
National Research Council (NRC) 2007. Nutrient requirements of small ruminants: sheep, goats, cervids, and New World camelids. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.
Smit, HJ, Taweel, HZ, Tas, BM, Tamminga, S and Elgersma, A 2005. Comparison of techniques for estimating herbage intake of grazing dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 88, 18271836.
Turner, KE, Wildeus, S and Collins, JR 2005. Intake, performance, and blood parameters in young goats offered high forage diets of lespedeza or alfalfa hay. Small Ruminant Research 59, 1523.
Undi, M, Wilson, C, Ominski, KH and Wittenberg, KM 2008. Comparison of techniques for estimation of forage dry matter intake by grazing beef cattle. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 88, 693701.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

animal
  • ISSN: 1751-7311
  • EISSN: 1751-732X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Zhang et al. supplementary material
Zhang et al. supplementary material 1

 Word (170 KB)
170 KB

Metrics

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