Use of fecal indices as a non-invasive tool for nutritional evaluation in extensive-grazing sheep
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Simple Summary To adequately manage ruminants in extensive grazing, it is important to have non-invasive techniques to evaluate their nutritional status. Some of these techniques are based on the use of fecal indicators, such as the concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and 2,6-diaminopimelic acid. These indices have been used in some species of wild ungulates, but their use has been limited in domestic ruminants. Hence, this research proposes the evaluation of fecal indices, as predictors of intake of dry matter, nitrogen and phosphorus in sheep that graze on Mediterranean annual grasslands. Abstract The aim of the present study was to assess the reliability of fecal indices as predictors of nutrient intake in sheep under extensive grazing conditions. Fecal concentrations of 2,6-diaminopimelic acid (DAPAf), nitrogen (FN) and phosphorous (FP) were determined in four sheep kept in an extensive grazing system on annual Mediterranean grassland in the vegetative, reproductive and dry phenological stages. Metabolizable energy (MEI), crude protein (CPI) and phosphorus (PI) intake were calculated using the botanical composition, metabolizable energy, crude protein and phosphorus concentrations in each vegetal species making up the animal's diet. Significant differences were observed in the nutrient intake for each phenological stage (p < 0.0001). The highest MEI, CPI and PI were observed during the vegetative stage (p < 0.0001). FN and FP were different in each phenological stage (p < 0.0001), with significant correlations observed between these variables (r = 0.916; p < 0.0001). Regressions among nutrient intake and fecal indices were significant, except in the cases of DAPAf and MEI, and DAPAf and CPI. Based on these results, fecal indices could be used to estimate nutrient intake in sheep under extensive grazing on annual Mediterranean grassland.
Artículo de publicación ISI
Quote ItemAnimals 2020, 10, 46
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