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Animal Breeding and Genetics
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2005;18(2): 214-220.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2005.214    Published online April 21, 2005.
Voluntary Intake and Digestibility of Saltbush by Sheep
M. M. W. Abu-Zanat
The study was conducted to compare the dry matter intake and digestibility of Atriplex halimus (AH) and Atriplex nummularia (AN) and determine the proper proportion of saltbushes for partial replacement of alfalfa hay in the diets of Awassi sheep. The foliage of AH and AN were hand-plucked, air-dried in shade and then chopped mechanically similar to alfalfa hay. Two trials were conducted separately to determine voluntary feed intake and digestibility of saltbush browse. In the first trial, fifteen 8 month old Awassi lambs were distributed into 3 equal groups, and each animal was housed in individual pen. Each group received one of three dietary treatments: chopped alfalfa hay (H), dried foliage of Atriplex nummularia or foliage of Atriplex halimus. In the second trial, twenty-seven 12 months old Awassi male lambs were randomly selected, distributed into nine equal groups, and housed into metabolic crates. Each group of animals received one of nine dietary treatments: alfalfa hay, AN, AH and different proportions (25, 50 and 75%) of AN or AH mixed with alfalfa hay. Forage type had a significant (p<0.001) effect on dry matter intake (DMI) and growth rate of lambs of the voluntary feed intake trial. Lambs receiving the alfalfa hay diet showed high DMI and high growth rate compared to those fed the diets containing saltbush. In the digestibility trial, dietary treatments had significant (p<0.05) effect on DMI, dry matter digestibility (DMD) (p<0.01) and organic matter digestibility (OMD) (p<0.01). The inclusion of AN in the diet up to 50% had no significant effect on DMI and DMD, whereas the inclusion of AH above 25% reduced DMI, DMD and OMD. The treatments had significant (p<0.05) effect on water intake and on live weight changes of lambs. Except for the diet containing 25% of AN browse, all lambs fed diets containing the saltbushes exhibited loss in body weight. The nutritive value of Atriplex nummularia foliage is better than that of A. halimus and it is possible to replace up to 50% of alfalfa hay by A. nummularia without negative effects on intake and digestibility of dry matter.
Keywords: Awassi Sheep; Atriplex; Dry Matter Intake; Digestibility; Growth Rate

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