Livestock Research for Rural Development 22 (8) 2010 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Intake, nutrient digestibility, rumen fermentation and water kinetics of sheep fed Dichanthium annulatum grass hay-tree leaves diets

Sultan Singh and S S Kundu*

Plant Animal Relationship Division, Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi-284003, India
singh.sultan@rediffmail.com
* National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India

Abstract

In 4 separate feeding trials, 4 adult male Muzzafarnagari sheep (mean weight of 26.8 2.0 kg) were fed mixtures of Dichanthium annulatum (DA) grass and leaves of Helictris isora (HI), Securenegia virosa (SV), Leucaena leucocephala (LL) and Hardwickia binnata (HB), in 75:25 ratios (DM basis) for 90 days on each diet. Feed intake, nutrient utilization, rumen metabolites and rumen water kinetics were measured.

 

LL had highest CP concentration (20.6%) and HB the lowest CP (11.2%) of the tree leaves, while grass ranged from 4.4 to 5.4% across the feeding trials. Dry matter intake was higher (P<0.05) on DA-HI (3.3% bodyweight and 74.0 g/kgW0.75) than on other diets. DM, CP, NDF, ADF and cellulose digestibility was higher (P<0.05) on DA-HI and DA-SV than DA-HB diet. Faecal N loss was (P<0.05) higher on DA-LL and DA-HB, while urinary N excretion was (P<0.05) more on DA-HI diet. Sheep was in negative N balance on DA-HB diet. Meal size (g/h, % body wt/h and g/kgw0.75/h) was higher (P<0.05) on DA-HI and DA-SV than DA-HB diet. Eating rate (g/h) was higher on DA-HI diet and lowest on DA-HB for 1st and 4th h of eating. In the last 7 and 17 h of feeding sheep eating rate was more on DA-LL and lowest on DA-HB.  TVFA and N metabolites concentration was higher (P<0.05) on DA-LL than other diets. Out flow rate (l/d) was more in sheep on DA-HI than other diets, while rumen volume was comparable (P>0.05) on diets.

 

Results revealed that sheep had higher intake, more nutrients digestibility and optimum rumen metabolites concentration on DA-HI and DA-SV diets while feeding of DA-HB diet lowered nutrients digestibility and rumen metabolites production in sheep

Key words: eating pattern, nutrients digestibility, tree leaves rumen metabolites, rumen water kinetics, sheep


Introduction

Grasses with leaves of browse plants (shrubs/trees) constitute a major component of small ruminant feeding systems both under grazing and semi-intensive systems in subtropical and tropical regions (Devendra 1990; Topps 1992). Leaves of many trees and shrubs are rich sources of protein, vitamins and minerals (Aganga and Mesho 2008; Mtui et al 2008) for supplementing low quality roughages (grasses, straws and stovers) (Aganga 2003).

 

Availability, nutritional quality, animal species and concentrations of toxic compounds restrict the level of use of tree leaves in roughage-based diets for small ruminants (Devendra 1990;  Singh 2004), although these authors recommended the feeding of shrub and tree leaves at 30-50% of the diet (DM basis). Presence of toxic and secondary metabolites limits the use of browse species in animal feeding (Silanikove et al 1997; Getachew et al 2002). These compounds exert both beneficial and harmful effects on ruminant digestive physiology (rate of passage, rumen metabolism, and microbial activity) and efficiency of use of nutrients viz. intake and digestibility (Waghorn et al 1994; Mc Sweeny et al 2001). Responses in sheep rumen fermentation and digesta kinetics from supplementing Pennisetum hay with tree leaves have been demonstrated (Navas-Camacho et al 1993).     

    

Evaluation of locally available feed resources including tree leaves/shrubs to reduce the feed deficit is of paramount importance, as they constitute a sizeable part of livestock feeding, particularly for small ruminants. While the nutritive value of Helictris isora, Securenegia virosa, Leucaena leucocephala and Hardwickia binata tree species available in Bundelkhand region, a part of semi-arid India, has been evaluated (Negi et al 2003; Chaurasia et al 2006), no information exists on the effects of Helictris isora, Securenegia virosa and Hardwickia binata leaves on rumen function.   The present study aimed to assess the effects on intake, nutrient digestibility, rumen fermentation and rumen water kinetics in sheep supplemented with leaves of these trees when fed Dichanthium annulatum grass-based diets.

 

Materials and methods 

Collection of grasses, tree leaves and shrubs samples

 

Tree leaves were collected by chopping the small tender branches and twigs from the trees of grazing fields and nursery of Grassland and Silvipastoral Management Division of the Institute. The leaves were dried under shade on polythene sheets for later use in animal feeding. Dichanthium annulatum (DA) grass was harvested at full bloom to mature stage from its pure fields maintained at Grassland and Silvipastoral Management Division and conserved as hay.

 

Animals and diets

 

Four adult male Muzzafarnagari sheep selected from the flock maintained at Plant Animal Relationship Division of Institute were offered Dichanthium annulatum-Securengia virosa (DA-SV), Dichanthium annulatum-Helictris isora (DA-HI), Dichanthium annulatum-Leucaena leucocephala (DA-LL) and Dichanthium annulatum-Hardwickia binata (DA-HB) diets in a 4 x 4 switch over experiment. Average weight of sheep was 26.72.7, 26.5 2.6, 25.62.5 and 28.22.6 kg on DA-SV, DA-HI, DA-LL and DA-HB diets, respectively.  Sheep were offered grass and tree leaves in 75:25 ratios (DM basis) in each feeding trial for more than 90 days.  Animals were tied with nylon rope/iron chain individually and offered half each of the grass and tree leaves between 09.00 and 09.30 h and the remaining half in the evening between 15.00 and 15.30 h. The animals were watered twice at 11.00 h and 15.00 h and were maintained under hygienic conditions throughout the experimental period.

 

Eating pattern

 

Prior to digestibility trial (after 50-55 days feeding) eating pattern of sheep on DA-HI, DA-SV, DA-LL and DA-HB diets was recorded for 3 consecutive days by offering half quantity each of grass and tree leaves at 09.00 h and again at 13.00 h. The intake of feed by individual animals was recorded at 1 h, 2 h, 3 h, 4 h, 5 h, 7 h and 17 h after the initial feeding by weighing the remaining feeds (refusal/leftover).

 

Digestion/metabolism trial

 

A digestion/metabolism trial of 7 days duration was conducted on each diet after about 60 days of feeding. Animals were kept in metabolism cages and allowed to adjust to the cages for 2-3 days prior to actual sampling of faeces and urine.  Faeces and urine of individual animal were collected for 24 hours and pooled in polythene bags and cans, respectively. Representative samples of faeces for DM (1/50 aliquot) and N (1/100 aliquot preserved in 20% H2SO4) estimation were collected for individual animals during the trial. A fixed volume (5 ml) of urine was pooled in digestion flasks (containing concentrated sulphuric acid) for individual animals during the collection period. Samples of grass, tree leaves and residue were also collected daily and representative samples were kept for DM estimation. Dried samples of faeces, feeds offered and residues were ground through a 1-mm sieve. Ground samples were stored in plastic containers and used for further chemical and biochemical estimations.

 

Rumen liquor collection

 

Rumen liquor samples were drawn from individual animals after the digestibility trial (60 days of feeding) and after 90 days of feeding. On each occasion, about 50-60 ml of rumen liquor was collected before feeding and 4 h post feeding into a 0.5 L pre-warmed thermos using a perforated plastic stomach tube using light suction. Rumen liquor pH was recorded immediately using the digital pH meter (Systronic-310). Rumen liquor was strained through double layer of muslin cloth and stored in 50 ml plastic bottles after adding a few drops of saturated mercuric chloride and then preserved in freezer until rumen metabolite analyses.

 

Water kinetics

 

Rumen volume, outflow rate and dilution rate of sheep on different DA-tree leaf diets were determined by the method of Smith (1959) and Hyden (1961). PEG-6000 dissolved in luke-warm water was infused into the rumen with a stomach tube and rumen liquor samples were collected subsequently.

 

Analytical techniques

 

Samples of grass (DA) and tree leaves (LL, HI, SV and HB), residues and faeces were analyzed for CP, DM and ash (AOAC 1990). The neutral detergent fiber (NDF- without amylase addition), acid detergent fiber (ADF), cellulose and lignin were analyzed as per the procedure of Van Soest et al (1991). Strained rumen liquor samples collected at 0 and 4 h post feeding were analyzed for total nitrogen and ammonia-nitrogen by the methods of McKenzie and Wallace (1954) and Conway (1962), respectively. The protein nitrogen was estimated by the method of McKenzie and Wallace (1954) as TCA-precipitable nitrogen.  Total volatile fatty acids (TVFA) were assayed by the method of Briggs et al (1957).

 

Statistical analysis

 

For statistical analysis of data on intake, nutrient digestibility, N balance, eating pattern and rumen metabolites, the General Linear Model (GLM) of SPSS version 12.0 was used with multivariate analysis. The difference in means was tested using Duncan’s Multiple Range Test as per Snedecor and Cochran (1968).

 

Results  

Chemical composition

 

The CP content of the DA grass ranged from 4.4-5.4 % during the feeding trials, while that of HI, SV, LL and HB were 12.6, 12.6, 20.6 and 11.2 %, respectively (Table 1). Cell wall polysaccharides (NDF, ADF and cellulose) were higher in HB than in the other tree leaves.


Table 1.  Chemical composition (% DM) of grass and tree leaves.

Attributes

DA

HI

DA

SV

DA

LL

DA

HB

Organic matter

92.0

87.5

91.7

91.6

92.7

90.6

91.8

93.2

Crude Protein

5.2

12.6

4.4

12.5

5.4

20.6

4.9

11.2

NDF

73.2

41.0

75.1

27.6

75.6

26.

77.6

57.0

ADF

39.9

26.9

44.5

16.5

47.7

15.2

50.6

40.3

Cellulose

31.4

17.2

35.3

12.1

38.3

8.3

46.8

25.7

Hemi cellulose

33.2

14.0

30.6

11.1

27.9

10.7

27.0

16.7

Lignin

6.0

7.65

7.2

3.65

6.6

6.7

4.0

14.6

Ash

8.0

12.5

8.3

8.39

7.3

9.4

8.2

6.8

DA: Dichanthium annulatum; HI: Helictris isora; SV: Securengia  virosa; LL: Leucaena leucocephala;
HB: Hardwickia binata.


Feed intake, nutrient digestibility and eating patterns

 

Dry matter intake was higher (P<0.05) in sheep fed on DA-HI (3.28% and 74.0 g/kgW0.75) than on other diets (Table 2).


Table 2.  DMI and nutrient digestibility in sheep on grass- tree leaf (75:25) diets. 

Parameters

DA-HI

DA-SV

DA-LL

DA-HB

SEM

Intake, g/d

856

712

739

750

42.9

%BW

3.3b

2.7a

2.9a

2.6a

0.1

g/kgW0.75

74.0b

61.0a

65.4a

60.6a

1.7

Digestibility, %

 

 

 

 

 

DM

51.6b

51.7b

44.1a

39.0a

1.1

OM

56.4b

55.7b

46.1a

41.4a

1.2

CP

47. 7c

41.2b

45.3bc

20.4a

1.7

NDF

51.4b

50.2b

38.2a

32.3a

1.2

ADF

47.7c

48.5c

33.9b

23.8a

1.4

Cellulose

59.3c

59.4c

43.5a

51.8b

1.3

Hemicellulose

55.1b

53.9b

52.0b

48.5a

1.2

 abc means within rows followed by different letters differ significantly (P<0.05)

DA-HI: Dichanthium annulatum + Helictris isora; DA-SV: Dichanthium annulatum + Securengia virosa; DA-LL: Dichanthium annulatum  + Leucaena leucocephala;  DA-HB: Dichanthium annulatum  + Hardwickia binata.


However, the intake of sheep on DA-LL tended to be higher (P>0.05) than on DA-SV and DA-HB.  Digestibility of DM, OM, NDF, ADF and cellulose on DA-LL and DA-HB were lower (P<0.05) than on DA-HI and DA-SV, and CP digestibility was lower (P<0.05) on a DA-HB diet than on DA-HI and DA-LL.

 

Consumption of feed on fresh and DM basis (g/h, % body wt g/h and g/Kg W0.75/h) during 24 of eating was lower (P<0.05) on DA-HB than other diets (Table 3).  


Table 3.  Average meal sizes in sheep fed DA grass-tree leaves diets in 75:25 proportions

Parameters

DA-HI

DA-SV

DA-LL

DA-HB

SEM

Feed DMI, g/h

33.5b

34.9b

36.9b

28.2a

1.0

DMI % body, wt g/h

132.6b

132.3b

146.8b

96.4a

4.3

Feed DM,I g/Kg W0.75/h

3.0ab

3.0ab

3.3b

2.5a

0.1

Feed intake, g/h

45.7a

52.0b

40.4a

43.1a

1.4

Feed intake, % body wt g/h

180.1b

197.4b

160.4a

147.3a

6.1

Feed intake, g/Kg W0.75/h

4.0a

4.5b

3.6a

3.4a

0.1

    ab means with different superscripts in a row differ significantly(P<0.05) between columns

DA-HI: Dicanthium annulatum+ Helictris isora; DA-SV: Dicanthium annulatum + Securengia virosa DA-LL: Dicanthium annulatum + Leucaena leucocephala ;  DA-HB Dicanthium annulatum  +Hardwickia binata


Sheep exhibited higher (P<0.05) eating rate during 1st and 4th h of feeding on DA-HI and DA-SV than DA-HB while during 7th and 17th h eating rate was not affected by the diets but tended to be higher with DA-HB (Figure 1).



Figure 1.  Eating pattern of sheep on grass-tree leaves based diets


Nitrogen balance

 

Nitrogen intake (g/d) was higher (P<0.05) in sheep on DA-LL than on other diets (Table 4) and faecal nitrogen excretion was higher (P<0.05) on DA-LL and DA-HB than on the other diets.


Table 4.  N balance in sheep fed DA grass-tree leaves in 75:25 proportions

Parameters

DA-HI

DA-SV

DA-LL

DA-HB

SEM

Nitrogen intake, g/d

9.8a

8.3a

13.3b

9.7a

0.7

Faecal N, g/d

4.7a

5.1a

7.3b

7.7b

0.5

Digestible N, g/d

5.1b

3.1a

6.0b

2.0a

0.3

Urinary N, g/d

5.0b

2.8a

3.3a

2.1a

0.3

Nitrogen balance  (g/d)

0.1a

0.3b

2.7c

-0.2a

0.3

abc means with different superscripts in a row differ significantly(P<0.05) between columns

DA-HI: Dicanthium annulatum+ Helictris isora; DA-SV: Dicanthium annulatum + Securengia virosa DA-LL: Dicanthium annulatum + Leucaena leucocephala ;  DA-HB Dicanthium annulatum  +Hardwickia binata


Urinary nitrogen loss on DA-HI was higher (P<0.05) than on the other diets. Animals were on negative nitrogen balance on DA-HB diet (-0.2 g/d), while N balance was highest on DA-LL diet (2.7 g/d).

 

Rumen metabolites and water kinetics

 

The mean pH of rumen liquor was similar on all diets (Table 5), though it was lower at 4 h after feeding than before feeding on all the diets.  


Table 5.  Rumen fermentation and water kinetics in sheep fed DA grass-tree leaves (75:25) diets

Parameters

DA-HI

DA-SV

DA-LL

DA-HB

SEM

pH

 

 

 

 

 

0h

7.25

7.4

6.9

7.1

 

4h

7.2

7.1

6.6

6.6

 

Mean

7.2a

7.3a

6.9a

6.9a

0.03

TVFA, meq/l

 

 

 

 

 

0h

76.5

64.2

105.7

71.1

 

4h

93.9

108.9

128.0

85.0

 

Mean

85.3a

86.5a

116.9b

78.0a

3.48

Total-N, mg/100ml

 

 

 

 

 

0h

74.9

64.4

94.1

63.5

 

4h

92.9

83.5

120.0

65.3

 

Mean

83.9b

73.9a

107.1c

64.4a

3.11

NH3-N, mg/100ml

 

 

 

 

 

0h

14.6

14.3

27.6

14.5

 

4h

16.6

17.8

30.92

19.6

 

Mean

15.6a

16.1a

29.3b

17.0a

0.64

TCA- N, mg/100ml

 

 

 

 

 

0h

29.8

25.9

45.5

20.3

 

4h

37.8

37.8

67.2

26.1

 

Mean

33.8b

31.8b

56.3c

23.2a

1.98

Water kinetics

 

 

 

 

 

Rumen volume, L

5.8

5.6

6.1

5.7

0.08

Dilution rate, %

7.5

4.7

6.2

4.2

0.07

Out flow rate, l/d

7

6.5

7.8

7.2

0.0.9

abc means with different superscripts in a row differ significantly(P<0.05) between columns

DA-HI: Dicanthium annulatum+ Helictris isora; DA-SV: Dicanthium annulatum + Securengia virosa DA-LL: Dicanthium annulatum + Leucaena leucocephala ;  DA-HB Dicanthium annulatum  +Hardwickia binata


Concentrations of total volatile fatty acids, total N, ammonia nitrogen and TCA soluble N in sheep rumen liquor were significantly (P<0.05) higher on DA-LL than on other diets.

 

Sheep rumen volume was identical across DA-tree leaves diets (5.6-6.1 Table 5), however dilution rate (%) and outflow rate (l/d) tended to be higher on DA-HI (7.54 and 9.7) than other diets.

 

Discussion       

Intake, nutrients digestibility and eating pattern

 

The low CP and high fiber concentrations in the grass reflect the maturity of the grass at harvesting. DMI of 62.4 and 58.4 g/kg w0.75 in goat fed timothy hay-mulberry leaves in 75:25 and 50:50 ratios, respectively observed by Enzewa et al (2000) is comparable with our observations. Feed intake recorded by Ebong (1995) in range of 69.0 –70.2 g/kg w0.75 in sheep fed tef straw (Eragrostis tef ) supplemented with A nilotica, A seyal and S sesban is in conformity with our results. Lower feed intake of sheep on DA-HB diet may be partly explained by the higher cell wall contents of HB as proportion of cell wall in a feed/diet accounts for a large amounts of the variation in its intake (Waldo 1986). Meissner and Esterhuyse (1993) showed that DM, N, ash and cell wall constituents explain 70 % of the variation in forage intake.

 

Lower nutrients digestibility in sheep on DA-HB diet may be attributed to higher fiber and lignin contents of HB, while for DA-LL diet more phenolics and condensed tannin in LL than HI and SV (Negi et al 2003) might have reduced the digestibility by binding with protein and carbohydrates (Leinmuler et al 1991; Hove et al 2001). Chemical entities of a feed and fodder influence their extent of digestion (Van Soest 1994). Alike our findings Hove et al (2001) observed variability in nutrients digestibility in goat on supplementing native pasture hay with dried leaves of legume shrubs.

 

More fibrous leaves of HB might have resulted in rumen fill and more time in grinding and chewing that might have caused low intake in early hours of feeding. Extent of eating pattern and feed consumption are a function of the type of feed/fodder, physical and chemical properties. Quality of feed has a greater proportional effect on eating rate than on the total amount of feed eaten.   Frisch and Vercoe (1969) reported that eating pattern of animals is highly correlated with fasting metabolism and intake both within and between diets. Without choice of food, taste and sense play a major role in initiation of feeding than amount of feed eaten (Balch and Campling 1962).

 

Nitrogen balance

 

Feacal and urinary N excretion in sheep on different DA grass tree leaves diets was lower than the observations of Navas-Camacho et al (1993) and this may be due to low nitrogen intake in present study. Alike the pattern of feacal and urinary N excretion of our study Hindrichsen et al (2004) also recorded varying level of feacal and urinary N excretion in sheep fed maize stover supplemented with different tree foliage.  There is direct relation between the dietary protein level and amount of N excreted in faeces. Nitrogen retention in the animal depends on its excretion through faeces and urine. Higher urinary N excretion in HB-HI diet is not known but it may be due to lack of adequate soluble carbohydrates for microbial protein synthesis as the fiber digestibility was low in sheep fed DA-HB diet. Further the variability in N excretion in faeces of sheep fed DA grass-tree leaves based diets may be associated with the level of tannins in tree leaves (Mc Brayer et al 1983 and Negi et al 2003). Nitrogen retention (g/d) in goats fed pasture hay with L leucocephala and A angustissima and Calliandra calorythus at 80, 160 and 320 g/d level supplementation (Hove et al 2001) follows the similar pattern of present study. Alike the present study Ebong (1995) found (P<0.05) variability in the faeces and urinary N excretion in sheep fed tef straw with different tree leaves.

 

Rumen metabolites and water kinetics

 

Ebong (1995) also observed significant effect (P<0.01) of tree leaves (A seyal, A nilotica and S sesban)  supplementation to tef straw on rumen liquor TVFA and NH3-N of sheep like present but the NH3-N level was low while TVFA at par with our results.. Variation in chemical composition of tree leaves might be responsible for differences in N degradability (Fall Toure and Michalet-Doreau 1995) resulting in variable NH3-N concentration in sheep rumen liquor on evaluated diets. Level of N metabolites in rumen liquor depends on the protein content and its soluble fractions. High contents of soluble protein (20-60%) may be found in high protein feeds such as Leucaena, Gliricidia and Calliandra (Preston and Leng 1987). Higher protein content and more solubility of LL protein may be responsible for higher contents of N metabolites in sheep on DA-LL diet. The NH3-N concentration for all the diets was above the minimum concentration of 50mg/l for microbial growth (Satter and Slyter 1974) and 23.8 mg/100 ml for optimum microbial fiber digestibility (Mehrez et al 1977). The concentration and composition of tannins and phenols present in shrubs and tree leaves inhibit the fermentation of protein and carbohydrates (Woodward and Reed 1989; Kibon and Orskov 1993) resulting in variation in rumen metabolite production on different diets. Rumen volume (L) of sheep fed DA-tree leaves diets was relatively less than reported by Navas-Camacho et al (1993) on Pennisetum clandestinum grass and Enterolobium ciclocarpum at 100 and 300 g of supplementation, however the dilution rate (%/h) was comparable to present observations. The decreased dilution rate (4.2 %/h) on DA-HB diet should have increased the retention time of solids resulting in more DM degradation. But this did not happen in present study like Navas-Camacho et al (1993). Manyuchi et al (1997) observed no effect of napier or groundnut hay supplementation to pasture hay fed to sheep on rumen volume but observed an increase of the out flow rate.

 

Conclusions 


Acknowledgements
 

Financial support under Young scientist Scheme by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi is highly acknowledged. Authors are also thankful to Director IGFRI, Jhansi for providing facilities to carry out the work. 

 

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Received 6 June 2010; Accepted 17 June 2010; Published 1 August 2010

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