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The prediction of body composition in live ewes in early lactation from live weight and estimates of gut contents and total body water

  • R. T. Cowan (a1), J. J. Robinson (a1), I. McHattie (a1) and C. Fraser (a1)

Summary

The efficacy of estimates of gut contents and total body water in increasing the precision with which the chemical composition of the body could be estimated in early lactation was evaluated in 36 Finnish Landrace × Dorset Horn ewes. The ewes were fed at two levels in pregnancy, and, in lactation, given diets of two metabolizable energy concentrations.

The allometric relationships relating weight of chemical fat and protein to emptybody weight were not affected by treatment or stage of lactation. Inclusion of an index of gut contents, based on dry-matter intake, indigestibility and retention time of food residues, together with live weight in a regression equation predicting weight of body fat, only slightly increased the precision of estimate compared with equations using live weight alone.

There was a close negative relationship between the proportions of water and fat in live weight. Inclusion of weight of body water with live weight in a regression equation predicting weight of body fat markedly increased the precision of estimate and the residual error (0·81 kg) was similar at different stages of lactation. However, when deuterium oxide space was used instead of body water there was only a small increase in precision of estimate and the residual error varied from 5·3 kg in early lactation to 2·1 kg in mid-lactation. The relationship between deuterium oxide space and body water was shown to be variable and altered by stage of lactation, and these differences were associated with differences in rate of water turnover in the animal's body.

It is concluded that estimates of body water are unsuitable for estimating weight of body fat in early lactation.

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The prediction of body composition in live ewes in early lactation from live weight and estimates of gut contents and total body water

  • R. T. Cowan (a1), J. J. Robinson (a1), I. McHattie (a1) and C. Fraser (a1)

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