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Comparison of intake and digestibility of fresh Digitaria decumbens grass fed to sheep, indoors or at pasture, at two different stages of regrowth

Abstract : The effect of two feeding systems (indoors and at pasture) on intake and digestion of fresh grass was studied at two stages of regrowth (21 and 35 days of regrowth) in two parallel experiments. In Experiment 1, 10 adult Martinik rams weighing, on average, 50.5 (60.9) kg, including four fitted with rumen cannula, were randomly allocated to two groups according to a 232 Latin Square design. These rams consumed a 21-day regrowth of Digitaria decumbens grass diet during two successive 28-day periods, indoors (five rams) or at pasture (five tethered rams). In Experiment 2, 10 other Martinik rams weighing, on average, 45.5 (60.9) kg, including four fitted with rumen cannula, were randomly allocated to two groups according to a 232 Latin Square design. These rams consumed a 35-day regrowth of D. decumbens grass diet during two successive 28-day periods, either indoors (five rams) or at pasture (five tethered rams). For the indoors groups, in vivo organic matter digestibility (OMD) was measured by total collection of feces. In addition, OMD was estimated indoors and at pasture using the fecal CP (CPf ) method (OMDCPf). Organic matter intake (OMI) was then estimated using OMDCPf and fecal organic matter output (OMICPf). Correlations of 0.49 and 0.77 were found between in vivo OMD and OMDCPf ( P,0.05) and between OMI and OMICPf ( P,0.001), respectively. OMDCPf was 1.8% ( P,0.05) and 2.7% ( P,0.01) lower indoors than at pasture at 21 and 35 days of regrowth, respectively, whereas OMICPf indoors was 1.1 and 1.16 times that registered at pasture at 21 and 35 days of regrowth, respectively. The higher OMDCPf at pasture was linked to the higher selective behavior of rams at pasture, whereas the differences in OMICPf between the two feeding systems were linked to differences in the total bulk density of the grass. These studies show that differences in OMDCPf and OMICPf exist between animals fed indoors and at pasture with the same forage and that these differences may vary according to the stage of regrowth of the grass offered.
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Audrey Fanchone, Harry Archimède, Remy Delagarde, Maryline Boval. Comparison of intake and digestibility of fresh Digitaria decumbens grass fed to sheep, indoors or at pasture, at two different stages of regrowth. animal, Published by Elsevier (since 2021) / Cambridge University Press (until 2020), 2012, 6 (7), pp.1108-1114. ⟨10.1017/S175173111100259X⟩. ⟨hal-02643224⟩

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