Dairy goats adjust their meal patterns to the fibre content of the diet - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Animal Year : 2021

Dairy goats adjust their meal patterns to the fibre content of the diet


Few studies have investigated how meal patterns of ruminants are affected by diet fibre content. Dairy goats (N = 32) in late lactation and early gestation were housed in eight groups of four goats, with all combinations of breed (Alpine and Saanen) and lactation number (1 and 2) represented in each group. Each goat had access to its own individual feed trough placed on a weigh scale with data logged automatically. All goats were fed the same total mixed ration (TMR; 30% concentrate and 44.6% NDF in DM) ad libitum for a control period of 22 days. Using the same feed ingredients, half of the groups were then offered a High fibre diet (20% concentrate; 47.3% NDF), and the other half a Low fibre diet (40% concentrate; 41.5% NDF) for a treatment period of 16 days. Daily meal patterns (meal frequency, duration and size, feeding rate, daily feed intake and daily feeding time) were computed for each animal using a meal criterion of 8 min. The last 10 days for each period (control and treatment) were used to calculate individual period means and individual differences between the two periods. During the control period, the goats ate on average 12.1 +/- 0.49 meals/day, consuming 4.2 +/- 0.10 kg fresh TMR daily. When the ration changed, all measures of feeding behaviour except meal size changed asymmetrically for the goats on the two diets. Goats fed the High fibre diet reduced their meal frequency by 10%, and the first meal after feed distribution lasted 11% longer, leading to a 9% reduction in feeding rate and no significant changes in daily feed intake and daily feeding time. Goats on the Low fibre diet did not significantly change their meal frequency or meal size, but the combined changes nevertheless led to a 9% increase in daily feed intake. On the Low fibre diet, goats were able to increase their feeding rate by a third, leading to a reduction in meal durations, thus reducing daily feeding time by 13%. Goats adapt their feeding behaviour to the fibre proportion of the offered diet, with more changes when fibre content is lowered, which needs to be taken into account when comparing phenotypes and adaptability of small ruminants to different diets.
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hal-03439283 , version 1 (13-06-2023)


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Birte Nielsen, Marjorie Cellier, Christine Duvaux-Ponter, Sylvie Giger-Reverdin. Dairy goats adjust their meal patterns to the fibre content of the diet. Animal, 2021, 15 (7), pp.100265. ⟨10.1016/j.animal.2021.100265⟩. ⟨hal-03439283⟩
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