Four young females of four ruminant species, namely cow, buffalo, sheep and goat were used to study the utilization of sun-cured berseem hay (20·6% CP) fed in long form during a 28-day experimental period. Voluntary intake of hay was estimated during the last 10 days and digestibility of feed nutrients and nitrogen balance during the last 6 days.
The digestibility coefficients of dry matter (D.M.), organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), crude fibre (CF), ether extract (EE) and nitrogen-free extract were higher for sheep and goat than for cow and buffalo but such differences were significant for D.M., OM and CP only. The daily D.M. intake was 3·56, 3·17, 0·92 and 0·63 kg/animal and 82·5, 81·2, 70·4 and 65·1 g/kg W0.75 in buffalo, cow, sheep and goat, respectively, but intake of total digestible nutrients (TDN) relative to metabolic body size was similar for all species.
Buffalo was superior to the other three species and cow to sheep and goat in ability to retain nitrogen. Berseem hay fed ad libitum supported a daily gain of 742, 500, 71 and 31 g in young female buffaloes, cows, sheep and goats, respectively. Digestible CP values of 13·33, 13·47, 15·38 and 15·01% and TDN values of 59·8, 57·6, 70·4 and 77·6% were obtained for cow, buffalo, sheep and goat, respectively.