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Animal Breeding and Genetics
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2005;18(1): 32-37.
https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2005.32    Published online April 19, 2005.
Effect of Salt Level in Water on Feed Intake and Growth Rate of Red and Fallow Weaner Deer
Y. J. Ru, P. C. Glatz, Y. M. Bao
Under a typical Mediterranean environment in southern Australia, the evaporation rate increases significantly in hot summers, resulting in highly saline drinking water for grazing animals. Also in the cropping areas, dryland salinity is a problem. Grazing animals under these environments can ingest excessive amount of salt from feed, drinking water and soil, which can lead to a reduction in growth rate. To understand the impact of high salt intake on grazing deer, two experiments were conducted to assess the effect of salt levels in drinking water on feed intake and growth rate of red and fallow weaner deer. The results revealed that fallow deer did not show any abnormal behaviour or sickness when salt level in drinking water was increased from 0% to 2.5%. Feed intake was not affected until the salt content in water exceeded 1.5%. Body weight gain was not affected by 1.2% salt in drinking water, but was reduced as salt content in water increased. Compared with deer on fresh water, the feed intake of red deer on saline water was 11-13% lower when salt level in drinking water was 0.4-0.8%. An increase in salt level in water up to 1% resulted in about a 30% reduction in feed intake (p<0.01). Body weight gain was significantly (p=0.004) reduced when salt level reached 1.2%. The deer on 1% salt tended to have a higher (p=0.052) osmotic pressure in serum. The concentration of P, K, Mg and S in serum was affected when salt level in water was over 1.0%. The results suggested that the salt level in drinking water should be lower than 1.2% for fallow weaner deer and 0.8% for red weaner deer to avoid any reduction in feed intake. Deer farmers need to regularly test the salt levels in drinking water on their farms to ensure that the salt intake of grazing deer is not over the levels that deer can tolerate.
Keywords: Water Intake; Salt Tolerance; Salt Intake

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