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The Use of N-alkanes for Estimating Intake and Passage Rate in Horses

  • B M L McLean (a1), R W Mayes (a2) and F D DeB Hovell (a3)

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Alkanes occur naturally in all plants, although forage crops tend to have higher alkane contents than cereals. N-alkanes have odd-numbered carbon chains. They are ideal for use as markers in feed trials, because, they are inert, indigestible and naturally occurring, and can be recovered in animal faeces. Synthetic alkanes (even-numbered carbon chains) are available commercially and can also used as external markers. Dove and Mayes (1991) cite evidence indicating that faecal recovery of alkanes in ruminants increases with increasing carbon-chain length. Thus the alkane “pairs” (e.g. C35 & C36, and C32 & C33) are used in calculating intake and digestibility because they are long chain and adjacent to each other. However, recent work by Cuddeford and Mayes (unpublished) has found that in horses the faecal recovery rates are similar regardless of chain lengths.

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Dove, H. and Mayes, R.W. (1991). Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 42: 913952
Mayes, R.W, Lamb, C.S, Colgrove, P.M. (1986) Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 107: 161170
Williams, C.H, David, D.J, Iismaa, O. (1962) Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 59: 381385

The Use of N-alkanes for Estimating Intake and Passage Rate in Horses

  • B M L McLean (a1), R W Mayes (a2) and F D DeB Hovell (a3)

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