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Comparison of digestive and chewing efficiency and time spent eating and ruminating in sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) and red deer (Cervus elaphus)

  • G. Semiadi (a1) (a2), T. N. Barry (a1), K. J. Stafford (a1), P. D. Muir (a2) and C. S. W. Reid (a1)...

Summary

Artificially reared sambar (tropical) deer and red (temperate) deer were confined indoors in metabolism cages and fed chaffed lucerne hay ad libitum for 4-week periods during summer and winter at Flock House Agricultural Centre, New Zealand, during 1992. Measurements were made of voluntary feed intake (VFI), apparent digestibility, faeces particle size distribution, eating and ruminating time and the rate of chewing during eating and ruminating. Red deer reduced VFI (kg DMI/day) markedly from summer to winter, associated with a reduction in the duration of each eating bout. Sambar deer slightly increased VFI over this time, associated with an increase in chewing frequency. Digestive efficiency was similar in both species, and the critical particle size for leaving the rumen was passage through a 1 mm sieve for both species. Time spent eating/g DMI was greater for sambar deer than for red deer during summer, but there was no difference during winter. Relative to red deer, sambar deer consistently spent more time ruminating/g DMI, and spent a greater proportion of total ruminating time as daytime ruminating and had more daytime ruminating bouts. Duration of each ruminating bout (min) was similar for the two deer species, but sambar deer had less chews/bolus ruminated but more rumination boli/h than red deer. Differences between sambar deer and red deer were more pronounced in ruminating than in eating behaviour, and sambar deer may have evolved a different rumination pattern to break down low-quality tropical forages more effectively.

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