Faecal indices were evaluated to assess organic matter digestibility (OMD) for small ruminants fed with Digitaria decumbens. A continuous digestibility trial was conducted with five Creole bucks and five Black-belly rams, fed with fresh cut Digitaria decumbens from 15 to 70 days of re-growth. The amount of herbage offered, the refusals and the faeces were weighed daily for each animal during 55 days. Herbage and faeces samples were kept to determine dry and organic matter (DM and OM), crude protein (CP), neutral and acid detergent fibre (NDF and ADF) and lignin contents (ADL). OMD was calculated per week and per animal. Predictive regressions of OMD were calculated for each species, from all the faecal components measured (CPf, NDFf, ADFf and ADLf), using linear or curvilinear models. Regressions from CPf had the lowest residual standard error (<0·028) when calculated for each species, compared with regressions from the other faecal components. Among the regressions from CPf, the lowest standard error of the predictive parameters was obtained with a model in the form of a-b/CPf, for each species. The latter allows prediction of OMD at pasture, consistent with theoretical energy requirement for both goats and ewes grazing a Digitaria decumbens based sward.
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