Influence of forbs and shrubs on intake, digestibility, and nitrogen and energy balance in sheep fed low-quality straw

S. Rafique, J. D. Wallace, J. L. Holechek, M. L. Galyean, D. P. Arthun

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3 Scopus citations


A 4×4 Latin square experiment (Exp) was conducted using eight Debouillet yearling wethers with two wethers/cell to compare the effects of forbs and shrubs supplementation to a low-quality barley straw with alfalfa hay (ALF) supplementation in terms of nutrient digestion and balance. Diets studied in the Exp were barley straw (0.56% N) and straw plus either 42% ALF, 63% forbs (a 50:50 mixture of scarlet globemallow and leatherleaf croton) or 62% shrubs (mixture of 50% fourwing saltbush and 50% mountain mahogany). Diets containing ALF, forbs and shrubs were isonitrogenous (1.68% N). Periods of each Latin square were 15 days with total fecal and urine collections obtained on the last 5 days of each period. Dry matter intake of ALF and shrub-containing diets was similar and higher (P<0.05) than straw alone or straw plus forb diets. Nitrogen (N) retention was improved, but NDF digestibility was reduced (P<0.05), in diets containing ALF and shrubs compared with straw only. No difference in N retention among diets were detected (P>0.05) when N intake was used as a covariate. Metabolizable energy (ME) content of all the diets was similar except the shrub containing diet that was lower than the straw plus forbs or straw plus ALF but similar to the straw diet. Forbs had little influence on digestion and N utilization in the Exp presumably because of their reduced acceptability in the dried and ground form by sheep. Results suggest that native shrubs used in the study influenced intake and N utilization in a manner similar to ALF; and forbs used were similar in ME to ALF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1993


  • alfalfa
  • barley straw
  • digestibility
  • forbs
  • intake
  • metabolizable energy
  • nitrogen balance
  • shrubs
  • supplementation
  • wethers


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