Influence of forbs and shrubs on nutrient digestion and balance in sheep fed grass hay

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Eight Debouillet yearling wethers were used in a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square experiment to evaluate the influence of forb mix, a shrub mix and alfalfa (ALF) hay on nutrient utilization of a basal grass hay (GH; 1.21% N) diet. Wethers ate less (P<0.05) of the forb diet than ALF or shrub diets, presumably because forb acceptance was substantially reduced when fed in a dried, ground form. Addition of ALF, forbs or shrubs to GH did not affect (P>0.05) digestibility of dry matter, gross energy, or neutral detergent fiber but ADF digestibility was less (P<0.05) for wethers fed forbs or shrubs than for those fed GH or GH+ALF. Addition of ALF or shrubs to the basal GH increased (P<0.05) N and gross energy intakes. When adjusted to a common N intake level by covariate analysis, fecal N was less (P<0.05) and urine N losses were greater (P<0.05) for the shrub diet compared with GH alone or GH+forbs, but N retention was similar (P>0.05) among all diets. Metabolizable energy (ME) values for diets in this experiment (1.23-1.45 kcal/g) were somewhat lower than those reported previously (1.6-1.9 kcal/g) for GH diets. Forb and ALF diets did not differ (P>0.05) in ME content (1.45 and 1.40 kcal/g) and both were greater (P<0.05) than the GH or GH+shrub diets (1.23 and 1.27 kcal/g). Based on these results, forbs and shrubs influence digestibility of most nutrients in GH in a manner similar to ALF. We conclude that shrubs and forbs used in this study can effectively serve as supplements for low-quality GH diets for livestock. Shrubs may have greater potential for improving efficiency of N utilization, whereas forb additions may potentially increase energy retention with GH diets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
JournalSmall Ruminant Research
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1992

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