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Ruminant Nutrition and Forage Utilization
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2007;20(6): 872-879.
https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2007.872    Published online May 2, 2007.
Seasonal Changes in Voluntary Intake and Digestibility by Sheep Grazing Introduced Leymus chinensis Pasture
H. X. Sun, D. W. Zhou*
Correspondence:  D. W. Zhou,
A study was conducted to investigate the seasonal changes in nutrient composition of pasture, voluntary intake and digestibility of sheep grazing an introduced Leymus chinensis pasture located in western Jilin Province, China. The whole-plant of L. chinensis and the samples simulating ingestion by sheep (simulating sample) were collected in spring (May, 2004), summer (July, 2004), autumn (September, 2004) and the end of winter (April, 2005). The contents of gross energy (GE), organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF) and alkanes were determined. Voluntary intake and apparent digestibility of the nutrients in each season were also examined using 6 mature Chinese Northeast Merino ewes (differed among the seasons) grazing on a paddock of 1 ha size. The apparent digestibilities of GE, dry matter (DM), OM, CP, NDF and ADF of L. chinensis were significantly greater (p<0.05) in spring and summer than in autumn and winter. Metabolizable energy (ME) content was 12.13, 11.62, 8.66 and 10.40 MJ/kg DM for L. chinensis in spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively, and the corresponding voluntary feed intakes were 91, 119, 59 and 58 g/d per kg metabolic weight (LW0.75). The ME contents and DM intakes in autumn and winter were significantly lower than in spring and summer (p<0.05). The intake of L. chinensis pasture was sufficient to provide ME requirements for maintenance by the dry ewes in all the seasons, but inadequate for maintenance protein requirement in winter. (Supported by funds from National Basic Research Program of China, Grant No. 2007CB106800).
Keywords: Leymus chinensis; Sheep; Voluntary Intake; Digestibility

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