Journal of eISSN: 2377-4312 JDVAR

Dairy, Veterinary & Animal Research
Review Article
Volume 2 Issue 4

Influence of roughage in the rations of early weaned lambs

Miroslav Simeonov,1 Krum Nedelkov,2 Nikolai Todorov3
1Department of Preservation, quality evaluation and utilization of forage crops, Research Institute of Forage Crops, Bulgaria
2Department of Livestock, Trakia University, Bulgaria
3Department Morphology, Physiology and Animal Nutrition, Trakia University, Bulgaria
Received: June 22, 2015 | Published: June 14, 2015
Correspondence: Miroslav Simeonov, Department of Preservation, quality evaluation and utilization of forage crops, Research Institute of Forge Crops, Pleven 5800, Bulgaria, Tel +359 878 632 156, Fax +359 64 805 881, Email
Citation: Simeonov M, Nedelkov K, Todorov N. Influence of roughage in the rations of early weaned lambs. J Dairy Vet Anim Res. 2015;2(4):134‒139. DOI: 10.15406/jdvar.2015.02.00042

Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess the effect of exclusion of roughage from the ration of early weaned lambs. The experiment was carried out with 30 lambs from the Blackhead Pleven sheep breed weaning at 19.6days of age with an weight of 9.3kg and divided in two groups. The lambs deprived of roughage intake by 26.8% more wheat grain, which is a prerequisite for a smaller expense of protein 4.6% and higher energy expenditure by 7.3%per kg gain. Average daily gain of lambs deprived of roughage was 2.9% less than lambs who received alfalfa hay (P>0.05). Lambs deprived of roughage have a higher carcas syield (P<0.05) and they accumulate by 9.2% more separable internal fat, which influenced the higher fatness, compared with lambs who received alfalfa hay. Insignificance was detected in the chemical composition of meat and weight of internal organs between the two groups of lambs.

Keywords: lambs, roughage, ration, average daily gain, alfalfa hay

Introduction

On the Balkan Peninsula, sheep lamb during the winter months, which necessitate to house and feed the lambs in indoor production systems. The proper nutrition of growing lambs is essential for their growth and development during the winter month, and the aim is attaining the desired live weight over a short time period with low feed expenditure. During that period, the major part of the ration of ruminants consists of roughages,1 hence the roughage costs are the primary part of expenses at farms. Blackwood,2 describes roughages as feeds with low energy and protein value, high crude fiber content and depending on their chemical composition; they are poorly utilized by animals. The amount and quality of roughage in dairy cows rations according to Allen3 determines the milk yield of cows. Roughages are bulky and therefore difficult to be transported, and related costs make the produce more expensive. At fattening, the dietary energy and protein levels provided by concentrate feeds are the important.

The type of roughage and their inclusion in the rations of lambs are disputable. According to Askar et al.,4 the presence of roughage in lambs’ diet reduces concentrate intake and digestibility, this suppressing the performance of animals. Concentrate feed consumption could be influenced by the type of the roughage,5 as well as by the physical shape of concentrates.6 Feeding early weaned lambs with concentrate only results in higher weight gain and more efficient feed conversion, without digestive disorders as reported by Tait et al.,7 and lower feed expenditure per 1 kg weight gain as outlined by Ørskov et al.8 According to Heinruchs,9 Jones10 do not recommend the use of hay in the diet of calves due to the lower energy content compared to concentrate feed, which disagrees with data reported by Anderson,11 Waterman.12 The aim of this study was to assess the effect of exclusion of roughage from the ration of early weaned lambs.

Materials and methods

Experimental lambs, weaning and rearing

The experiment was performed in 2011 with 30 lambs form the Blackhead Pleven Sheep breed, divided in two groups in order to evaluate the effect of excluding roughage from their diet. Sheep with lambs born within 4days were selected from the two main herds of the Institute of Forage Crops, Pleven. After 5days of age, lambs had free access to creep.13 The weaning was gradual, by restricting suckling time to 10-15min with gradually increasing the periods between suckling episodes.14 The restricted suckling began at a live weight of 8.9kg and 14.6days of age and ended with lambs at 19.6days of age with average weight of 9.3kg.

At weaning, the lambs were divided in two groups with equal birth date and lambing type, live weight at birth and weaning each group consisted of 7 female and 8 male lambs. The two groups were fed the same ration consisting of pelleted protein concentrate (PPC), and wheat (1:1). The used PPC was the same for both groups and contained 20.5% soybean meal and 50% sunflower meal. The aforementioned feeds were provided in such amounts that there always were leftovers from both feed types in the next morning. The lambs from the second group were deprived by roughage (alfalfa hay).

In both groups of lambs PPC and wheat, was put in separate feeder trays so that the animals could choose. The chemical composition of used feeds determined by the standard methods15 is presented in Table 1. During the entire experimental period, the lambs had a permanent access to cold pure tap water with temperature of about 20°С, whose amount and leftovers were measured on a daily basis. The offered feeds and their residues were weighed at 6.00AM every morning to determine feed intake. Following this feeding regimen, every lamb included in the experiment was reared up to 26-27kg live weight, determined after 12hour water deprivation and 24hour fasting.

Feed Stuffs

Chemical Composition

DM

CP

EE

CF

NFF

Ash

FUG*

PDI*

BPR*

Ca

P

PPC▲

87.59

314

20.0

99.8

468

98.2

1.11

148.2

98.4

12.5

10.03

Wheat

85.98

132.5

17.6

36.3

793

20.6

1.39

98.8

-16.8

0.51

3.91

Alfalfa Hay

87.01

147.2

18.9

304.6

451.2

78.1

0.65

73

46

11.3

1.59

Table 1 Composition and nutritive value of feedstuffs (g.kg-1 at natural moisture).

Note: ▲Pelleted protein concentrate; *Date are according Todorov et al. [30], corrected for moisture content Feed units for growth (1FUG=6 MJ net energy growth) for crude fiber, PDI and BPR for crude protein content.

Abbreviations: DM: Dry Matter; CP: Crude Protein; EE: Ether Extract; CF: Crude Fiber; Ash: Crude Ash; NFF: Nitrogen-Free Extract; FUG: Feed Units for Growth; PDI: Protein truly Digestible in Small Intestine; BPR: Balance of Protein in the Rumen; Ca: Calcium; P: Phosphorus

The live weight was measured with electronic scales at birth, at weaning (start of the experiment) and at 7day intervals until the end of the trial. Lambs were weighed in the morning before the new feed was offered, and at the end of the trial were weighed after 12hour water deprivation and 24hour fasting.

Slaughter analysis and sampling

At the end of the experiment, slaughter analysis of 5 male lambs from each group was performed after attaining a live weight of 26kg. The internal organs were separated and weighed, and samples from kidney fat tissue were obtained for determination of fatty acid content. Carcasses were graded as per the (S) EUROP system within 1 hour after slaughter,16 then were cut in halves and stored at 4˚C for 24h as described by Zahariev.17 From each carcass half, samples from m. Longissimus dorsi were carefully collected for determination of meat chemical composition after storage of samples at -20˚C.

Analytical methods

The contents of water, dry matter, protein, fat and ash contents of Muscle Longissimus dorsi was determined according to per Association of Official Analytical Chemists.15

Economical evaluation

The price of the bought feed was according to the sum for Pelleted protein concentrate (PPC). The price of the feed produced in the Institute of Forage Crops, Pleven (wheat and alfalfa hay) was according to the prices in the country for the respective period, taken from the Newsletter of the System foragrarian market economy.

Statistical analysis

The statistical analysis of data was done with Statistica for Windows software.18 The groups were compared using t-test, as differences at P<0.05 were considered significant.

Results

Feed consumption

Intake of feed and dry matter in the lambs fed alfalfa hay was by 7% higher than those in the other group (Table 2). The lack of alfalfa hay in lambs from the second group was the reason for the higher intake of concentrate throughout the experimental period (Figure 1), which has led for the higher expense of concentrated feed and feed units for growth per kg gain (by 16.3%, Table 2).

Indicators

1 Group,
With Alfalfa hay

2 Group,
no Roughage

Intake of Feed by Animal, kg/day

Alfalfa Hay

0.208

0

Pelleted Protein Concentrate

0.431

0.416

Wheat

0.407

0.556

All Feed

1.046

0.972

All Dry Matter

0.908

0.842

Intake of Ash, g/day

66.95

52.30

Intake of Drinking water, g/day

2.997

3.314

Water, kg/Dry Matter

3.301

3.936

Intake of Energy and Nutrients by Animal per day

Feed Units Growth (FUG)*

1.179

1.235

Crude Protein, g

191.7

177.6

Crude Protein, % form Dry Matter

21.1

21.1

Protein truly Digestible in Small Intestine (PDI), g*

103.8

101.2

Balance of Protein in the Rumen (BPR), g*

39.6

27.8

Crude Fiber, g

105.6

53.7

Calcium, g

6.949

4.794

Phosphorus, g

5.448

5.520

Expense of Feed, Energy and Nutrients per kg gain

Dry Matter, kg

3.266

3.119

Concentrate Feed, kg

3.014

3.600

Feed Units for Growth (FUG)*

4.241

4.574

Protein truly Digestible in Small Intestine (PDI), g*

373.4

374.8

Crude Protein, g

689.6

657.8

Table 2 Expenditure of feed for experiment period

Note: *Date are according Todorov et al. [30], corrected for moisture content Feed units for growth (1FUG = 6 MJ net energy growth) for crude fiber, PDI and BPR for crude protein content.

Figure 1 Dynamics of concentrate intake during experiment period.

Intake of the energy was by 4.5% higher in lambs deprived from roughage compared to lambs from the first group (Table 2). Intake of the protein in lambs from the second group was by 7.4% lower vs. form the first group, but this did not influence the protein truly digestible in intestines: the between-group difference was under 3% (Table 2). The lack of alfalfa hay was responsible for the lower crude fiber (53.7g/day) and calcium intake (4.794g/day), as compared to lambs from the first group (Тable 2).

Growth of lambs

According to the results, the lambs from the first group fed alfalfa hay had a higher average daily gain, compared to animals deprived of roughage, but difference of 2.9% was statistically insignificant (P>0.05, Table 3).During the first 3 post weaning weeks (up to 21days of age), the growth of lambs was almost similar, and thereafter lambs fed alfalfa hay grew faster than those deprived from roughage (P>0.05, Figure 2).

Indicators

1 Group,
with Alfalfa hay

2 Group,
no Roughage

Significance

LW at Birth, kg

4.434 ± 0.164

4.694 ± 0.541

ns

LW at Weaning, kg

9.183 ± 0.639

9.352 ± 1.093

ns

LW at the end of the Experiment, kg

26.943 ± 1.008

26.167 ± 1.169

ns

- ADG (from weaning to the end of the Experiment, kg

0.278 ± 0.018

0.270 ± 0.024

ns

Age, day

- at Weaning

19.3 ± 0.714

20.0 ± 1.125

ns

- at the end of the Experiment

83.3 ± 3.435

82.3 ± 3.703

ns

Experiment Period

64.0 ± 3.697

62.3 ± 4.302

ns

Slaughter data

Pre-slaughter Weight, kg

26.567 ± 0.338

26.433 ± 0.233

ns

Carcass Weight, kg

12.330 ± 0.286

12.823 ± 0.249

ns

Carcass Yield, %

46.40

49.36

*

Separable Internal Fat, kg

0.475 ± 0.099

0.523 ± 0.062

*

Fattens

2.7

3.0

ns

Table 3 Growth of the lambs and slaughter data

Note: * P<0.05; ADG: Average Daily Gain; ns: non significant

Figure 2 Changes in the live weight during the trial.

Slaughter analysis

The lambs deprived of roughage had a statistically significantly higher carcass yield compared to those from the first group (P<0.05, Table 3). Separable internal fat amount was by 9.2% higher in lambs deprived from roughage which was manifested by higher carcass adiposity (P<0.05, Table 3). The chemical analysis of Muscle Logissimus dorsi did not differ considerable between the groups (Table 4). The protein content was higher in the meat of lambs deprived from roughage whereas the fat content-in lambs fed alfalfa hay (P>0.05).

Components %

1 Group,
with alfalfa hay

2 Group,
no roughage

Significance

Water

74.550

74.530

ns

Dry Matter

25.450

25.470

ns

Protein

19.820

20.727

ns

Fat

4.520

3.693

ns

Ash

1.110

1.050

ns

Table 4 Chemical composition of Muscle Logissimus dorsi

Note: ns: non-significant

The used feeding schedules did not have a significant effect on the weight of internal organs (Table 5). According to the results, lambs fed alfalfa hay had a higher weight of small intestine and stomachs (0.830 and 0.813g respectively)than lambs deprived from roughage (0.742 and 0.767g), but the differences were not statistically significant. The difference in feed costs per lamb and per kg weight gain in both groups was under 2%, but per kg carcass the costs were by 5% lower in the group deprived from roughage (Table 6).

Organs Weight, kg

1 Group,
with Alfalfa Hay

2 Group,
no Roughage

Significance

Heart

0.133

0.137

ns

Lung

0.483

0.580

ns

Liver

0.630

0.633

ns

Spleen

0.067

0.067

ns

Small Intestine

0.830

0.742

ns

L.S.I.,cm*

2602.7

2705.7

ns

Large intestine

0.340

0.347

ns

Stomachs

0.813

0.767

ns

Diaphragm

0.133

0.113

ns

Kidney

0.123

0.137

ns

Table 5 Weight of internal organs

Note: *L.S.I.: Length of Small Intestine; ns: non-significant

Feed / Indicators

Perce/ton,
Euro

1 Group,
with Alfalfa hay

2 Group,
no Roughage

Alfalfa Hay

127.82

0.027

-

Pelleted Protein Concentrate

341.03

0.147

0.142

Wheat

200.43

0.082

0.111

Total per Lamb

0.256

0.253

Per 1 kg Gain

0.921

0.937

Per kg Carcass

2.076

1.973

Table 6 Price of feed stuffs consumed by one lamb per day of experiment

Discussion

The deprivation of lambs from roughage led to statistically significantly higher carcass yields (P<0.05) and significantly had more amount of separable fat in comparison to animals receiving alfalfa hay (Table 3). Loerch27 and Haddad24 also reported higher slaughter yields in goat kids and lambs fed a minimum amount of roughage, which has influenced the lower feed intake per 1kg weight gain. When roughage was included in the ration of lambs, their meat would meet the requirements of consumers (less amount of fat, lower carcass adiposity) which makes it economically rewarding.28 In this study, the results did not exhibit statistically significant differences in the chemical composition of meat between the two groups of lambs (Table 4). The intensive feeding with concentrate results in deposition of more fat and this makes the carcass unacceptable for consumers.29,30 This is not supported by the present study data both with respect to the amount of separable fat (Table 3) and the fat content of Muscle Logissimus dorsi (Table 4), probably due to the type of the used grain feed. In a previous study of ours, the feeding of early weaned lambs with corn grain has led in insignificantly higher carcass adiposity and fat content of Muscle Logissimus dorsi.21 Wheat contains 96% of the net energy of corn grain and is distinguished with higher crude protein content, thus being an appropriate feed for ruminants,31 associated to lower costs in the intensive rearing of lambs.32 The dietary roughage level in the view of Karim33 does not influence the chemical composition of meat.

The lower level of roughage in the diet of lambs according to Kumari et al.,19 led to higher feed expenditure per 1kg weight gain, probably because of the high cost of grain feeds in Ethiopia that makes them economically inefficient. In our study, the difference between the groups was under 2% in favour of lambs fed alfalfa hay. The feed expenditure per 1kg carcass was by 5% lower in roughage-deprived lambs (Table 6). Jabbar & Anjum34 reported that the lower dietary roughage level was related to lower feed expenditure per 1 kg weight gain, supported also by the investigation of Haddad24 in goat kids.

Conclusion

The deprivation of lambs from alfalfa hay until attainment of live weight of 26-27kg did not have a considerable effect on the performance of animals and feed conversion. Deprived of roughage, lambs consumed by 26.8% more wheat grain, a prerequisite for lower protein expenditure (by 4.6%) and higher energy expenditure (by 7.3%) per 1kg gain. Expense of feed per kg carcass was 5% lower for lambs deprived of roughage.

Acknowledgements

None.

Conflict of interest

Author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

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