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Polyethylene glycol marker measured with NIRS gives a reliable estimate of the rangeland intake of grazing sheep

Hassoun P., Bastianelli D., Foulquié D., Bonnal L., Bocquier F.. 2016. Animal (Cambridge), 10 (5) : p. 771-778.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) measured with NIRS is known to be a valuable faecal marker when used in indoor experiments. In order to verify whether it can be used at pasture, an experiment was conducted with two trials. In trial 1, six Romane breed adult dry ewes placed in metabolism cages were fed daily with natural, freshly cut rangeland from a fertilised or unfertilised paddock for 6 weeks. Three ewes did not receive PEG and the three others were dosed with 10 g of PEG in solution form once daily until the end of the experiment to measure in vivo dry matter digestibility and PEG recovery rate for each forage quality. At the same time (trial 2), 15 ewe lambs and 14 lactating adult ewes suckling one or two lambs were allowed to graze together on the same herbage as that cut for indoor ewes. All animals were initially equipped with faecal bags emptied twice daily for collecting total faeces, and eight ewe lambs and seven adults were dosed once daily with 10 g of PEG. Faecal grab samples were collected for 4 to 5 days for each forage quality grazed. Indoor trial 1 showed that PEG had no effect on dry matter intake (DMI) or on digestibility. PEG recovery rates measured on fertilised (77.7%) and unfertilised (82.1%) forage were not different (P>0.05). PEG recovery rates measured at pasture did not differ (P>0.05) between pasture quality and animal type with an average value of 68.9%. Faecal output measured with bags or estimated with PEG and calculated DMI were not different (P>0.05) when PEG recovery rate measured at pasture was used. Conversely, using indoor PEG recovery values, significantly (P<0.05) or tended to overestimate faecal output. In conclusion, PEG could be used as a faecal marker administered at a minimal dose of 1% of DMI with a recovery rate measured under pasture conditions for pasture intake measurements on a group of animals at the same physiological stage but not for individual measurements. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : ovin; conduite d'élevage; pâturage; alimentation des animaux; indicateur biologique; indicateur; polyéthylène; glycol; fèces; spectroscopie infrarouge; technique analytique; languedoc-roussillon; polyéthylène glycol

Thématique : Alimentation animale; Méthodes de relevé

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