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Forage intake and digestibility compared in different herbivores species

INRA Prod. Anim., 8 (4), 293-307.


INRA Station de Recherches sur la Nutrition des Herbivores, Theix, 63122 St Genès Champanelle


In this review, DM intake of inside fed forages, as well as their digestiblity, are compared in different domestic herbivores species (ovine, caprine, bovine, deer, llama and horse).

DM intake, corrected by live weight, is more different with low quality forages, results for deers and goats being the highest. Some differences can yet been observed for late harvested hays. For good quality forages results are similar for the studied species, except for llamas, for which they are the smallest.

DM intake is also given after correction by metabolic weight (W 0.75). Informations and explanations are added through the daily eating time, physiological control of intake, daily ruminating time, mechanism of food comminution and saliva production.

Appreciable differences are also observed for digestibility between the studied species. These differences are small for good quality forages and increase when the quality of the forages decreases. So, for low quality forages, the following classification can be established in decreasing order : llama, bovine, caprine, ovine, deer, horse. The observed differences are explained by the following factors : relative contribution of the different gut parts, variable efficiency of microbial digestion, digesta flow in the gut and efficiency of nitrogen and mineral recycling.

Digestible organic matter intake (DOMI), corrected by the metabolic weight of the animals, gives a good idea of energy supply relatively to the needs of the different species. From this point of view animals with a high liveweight are largely advantaged, bovines and horses being comparable. Among species with a low liveweight ovines have a lower DOMI than other.
Outside, the small ruminants are therefore obliged to ingest more digestible foods than large ones.

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