A simple method to estimate feed required for maintenance of small ruminants

TitleA simple method to estimate feed required for maintenance of small ruminants
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGoetsch, AL, Puchala, R, Dolebo, AT, Gipson, TA, Tsukahara, Y, Dawson, LJ
Series TitleJournal of Animal Science
Type of Medium(E-Supplement)

A simple means to estimate feed required for maintenance by Katahdin (K) sheep and Spanish (S) goats (initial BW = 30.6±0.40 and 21.8±0.27 kg, respectively; 8 mo old) by frequent BW measurement and adjustment of feed offered was evaluated. Ten K and S wethers in 1.05 × 0.55 m pens were fed grass hay (64.1% NDF, 10.4% CP, and 55.4% TDN; DM basis), initially at 58 and 55 g/kg BW0.75 (air-dry basis; i.e., ME intake of 427 and 452 kJ/kg BW0.75, respectively), at 0800 h for 5 wk. Three times weekly BW was measured at 1300 h in 50-g increments, and hay fed was varied thereafter by 0-5% (i.e., ≤ 40 g/d) to maintain BW. Breed (732 and 538 g for K and S, respectively; SE=11.5) and wk (625, 653, 632, 623, and 641 g for wk 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively; SE=9.4) affected daily air-dry intake (ADI; P0.10) were 2-5 and 2-4. Hence, the intercept of wk 2-4 regressions was used to determine feed required for maintenance, with values of 727 and 538 g ADI (SE=11.6), corresponding to a ME requirement for maintenance of 447 and 426 kJ/kg BW0.75 for K and S, respectively. Variability was homogenous between breeds (P=0.867), although intercept SE averaged 6.0 and 12.9 g ADI for K and S, respectively. In conclusion, after 2 wk of adaptation, frequent weighing and change in offered feed for 2 wk may offer a relatively simple means of estimating maintenance feed needs of small ruminants.