The aim of the present experiment was to assess the effect of the association of the spineless cactus with sunflower silage, sorghum silage, leucena hay, pigeon pea hay or elephant grass hay on intake, apparent digestibility of nutrients and ruminal measures in mixed breed sheep, with fistulas in the rumen. Five sheep with a mean body weight of 30kg (±0,3), were distributed in 5x5 Latin squares. Intake of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, total carbohydrates, total digestible nutrients (in kg/day), neutral detergent fiber (in % of live weight), apparent digestibility of crude protein and non-fiber carbohydrates were not influenced by the association of spineless cactus and the silages or hays. Ether extract intake was greater for the elephant grass hay treatment in comparison to sunflower silage and similar to the sorghum silage and hays. Apparent digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, ether extract, neutral detergent fiber and total carbohydrates was not influenced by the association of spineless cactus and silages or hays. Apparent digestibility of dry matter for sorghum silage was higher in comparison to the leucena hay and elephant grass hay. There was no significant difference between pH and ruminal ammonia concentration for the treatments at different sampling times. The association of spineless cactus and silages or hays did not alter dry matter intake and energy. Sorghum silages and sunflower and leucena, pigeon pea and elephant grass hay associated the spineless cactus show a good food alternative to sheep in semiarid region of the northeastern Brazil.
ruminal ammonium; non-fiber carbohydrate; nutrient intake; total digestible nutrients; opuntia