The intake of fibrous food by ruminants are mainly regulated by physical means. When different forages are offered, intake level is related to rumen fill capacity, being the rate of digestion and disappearance of food particles from the rumen also important factors.
On the other hand, there have been some reports on the differences in food intake between sheep breeds (Arnold, 1975). Breeds adapted to different nutritional environments could have developed differences in digestive physiology and intake potential.
The aim of this experiment was to study the infuence of the type of roughage offered on meal patterns, as well as the differences in these parameters between two Spanish sheep breeds.
Ad libitum food intake of non-pregnant and non-lactating ewes (six Churra and six Merino sheep per food) was daily monitored using an automatic recording device that allowed calculation of meal size and duration.