Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia
On-line version ISSN 1806-9290
BISPO, Safira Valença et al. Spineless cactus in replacement of elephantgrass hay: effect on intake, apparent digestibility and ruminal fermentation characteristics in sheep. R. Bras. Zootec. [online]. 2007, vol.36, n.6, pp. 1902-1909. ISSN 1806-9290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-35982007000800026.
A study was conducted with the objective to evaluate the effects of replacing elephant-grass by spineless cactus (Opuntia ficus indica, Mill) as a forage source on intake, apparent digestibility of the nutrients and of ruminal fermentation characteristics of sheep. Five iso-nitrogenous diets were formulated where spineless cactus replaced 0, 14, 28, 42 and 56% of elephantgrass in the diet. Five non-castrated male sheep were allotted to a 5 x 5 Latin square design (five periods, five spineless cactus levels and five replications). Each experimental period last 13 day - seven days for adaptation and 6 days for collection of data and samples. Intakes of DM, OM, EE, CP, TC, NFC, and TDN linearly increased as the elephantgrass was replaced by spineless cactus in the diet. Water intake linearly decreased and NDF intake showed a quadratic effect as the elephant grass was replaced by spineless cactus in the diet. The coefficient of apparent digestibilities of EE, CP, NFC and NDF were not affected by spineless cactus, while, apparent digestibilities of DM, OM and TC linearly increased as the elephantgrass was replaced by spineless cactus in the diet. Ruminal pH and N-NH3 concentration linearly decreased as the elephantgrass was replaced by spineless cactus in the diet The replacement of elephantgrass by spineless cactus in the diet improve the nutrient intake and nutrient utilization.
Keywords : carbohydrates; energy; forage; intake; Opuntia.