The use of small ruminants, such as sheep, in metabolism studies is more convenient as handling problems are reduced and their maintenance costs are lower, in comparison with cattle. However in vivo digestibility estimates obtained at maintenance are known to differ between these two species. With the increased use of in vitro gas production techniques, to evaluate ruminant feedingstuffs, it is of great importance to identify whether the species from which the rumen fluid inoculum is obtained has a significant influence on the results obtained.
Rumen fluid samples were obtained from a non-lactating Holstein cow (C) and six wether sheep (S) offered the same diet (80 % tropical grass and 20 % dairy concentrate) and prepared so as to have similar dry matter (DM) contents and therefore potentially the microbial mass. Nine substrates (two tropical grasses 1-2, tropical alfalfa 3, barley straw 4, and five temperate grasses 5-9) were examined.