Functional diversity vs. monotony: The effect of a multiforage diet as opposed to a single forage diet on animal intake, performance, welfare, and urinary nitrogen excretion
Garrett, Konagh; Beck, Matthew R.; Marshall, Cameron J.; Fleming, Anita; Logan, Christopher M.; Maxwell, Thomas M. R.; Greer, Andrew W.; Gregorini, Pablo
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of offering animals a multiforage choice (MF) of fresh herbages on dry matter intake (DMI), live weight gain, and animal welfare, in comparison with a monotonous diet of ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Twenty ram lambs (30.5 ± 0.9 kg initial live weight; mean ± SEM), were randomly allocated to either a diet consisting of diverse MF choice or a single forage ryegrass (SF) diet (n = 10 per treatment) for 35 d. Both diets were fed ad libitum; however, the MF diet was composed of set dry matter ratios of 24% chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), 30% lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), 25% plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.), and 21% ryegrass. The DMI of the MF lambs was 48% greater (P < 0.01) and the within animal day-to-day coefficient of variation (CV) of intake was 26% lower (P < 0.01) than the SF lambs. The average daily gain (ADG) of lambs offered the MF diet was 92% greater (P < 0.01) than the lambs offered the SF diet. The within-animal day-to-day CV of intake was negatively related to ADG (r = −0.59; P < 0.01). The MF lamb’s urinary N concentration was 30% lower (P < 0.01) than that of the SF lambs. The SF lambs spent more time (P < 0.05) exhibiting stereotypic behaviors in the afternoon and spent more time observing other animals than the MF. Overall, allocating an MF choice of fresh herbages as opposed to a single forage diet of ryegrass increases DMI and thereby animal performance, while potentially reducing urinary N excretion.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsdiet; diversity; monotony; welfare; sheep; Dairy & Animal Science; Animals; Chicory; Lolium; Nitrogen; Animal Feed; Male
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