Chaffed lucerne hay was fed to wether sheep at two feeding frequencies (once a day (daily) and once an hour (hourly)) and at two levels of dry matter (D.M.) intake (700 (L) and 1020 (H) g/day). Sheep fed daily were slaughtered either prior to eating, immediately after eating ceased or 10 h after eating ceased to compare rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum pool sizes and particle size distributions within pools.
Effects of level of intake, feeding frequency and time after feeding were confined mainly to the rumen which contained 77–91% of stomach D.M. Once-daily feeding resulted in a 2·6 fold variation in rumen D.M. pool size. Sheep fed hourly had a relatively small rumen and comparatively large reticulum D.M. pool. Diurnal changes in reticulo-rumen particle size pools are discussed in relation to the effectiveness of chewing.
Particle size distribution in digesta was estimated by wet sieving. On average the proportion of D.M. retained on a sieve 1 mm or larger comprised 35, 28, 4 and 4% of D.M. in the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum, respectively, D.M. passing a 0·25 mm sieve comprised 40, 46, 57 and 61% of D.M. in the respective organs.
The reticulum usually contained significantly less D.M. retained on a 4 mm sieve than the rumen, and reticulum D.M. percentage was usually 3–5 units lower than rumen D.M. percentage. Reticulum digesta composition is discussed in relation to the efflux of particulate D.M. to the omasum.
Chemical composition of rumen particulate D.M. retained on sieves > 0·25 mm was comparatively unaffected by intake level and feeding frequency. Analyses of particle composition showed a rapid loss of non cell wall constituents after feeding and an increasing contribution of rumination toward particle size reduction.