This study aimed to determine the best level of the blend of spineless cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera) and Mombasa (Panicum maximum) hay as roughage in the diet of lambs based on intake, digestibility, ingestive behavior, and lamb performance. Forty-eight uncastrated crossbred Santa Ines breed lambs with an average age of 4 months old and an average initial BW of 20.5 kg ± 2.8 kg were distributed in two experiments using a completely randomized design: experiment 1: 16 lambs (four treatments and four replicates) for in vivo digestibility trial in metabolic cage; experiment 2: 32 lambs (four treatments and eight replicates) in feedlot to determine intake, ingestive behavior, and performance. As the amount of cactus in the roughage increased, there was a linear reduction (P <0.001) on intake (g/day) of dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), non-fibrous carbohydrates (NFC) digestibility, time spent ruminating, feeding efficiency of NDF (P = 0.0153), NDF rumination efficiency rate (P = 0.032), final BW, TWG, and ADG of lamb. However, there was a linear increase (P <0.001) on the intake of the NFC and TDN, digestibility coefficient of DM, CP, total carbohydrates (TC) and NDF gross energy, metabolizable energy, and time spent idling when spineless cactus increased in the roughage blend. The least amount of cactus in the roughage (112–637 g/kg DM) promoted higher intake of DM and CP, improving lamb performance. However, the blend up to 450–300 g/kg DM improved digestibility and energy production as well as it did not affect the feed efficiency.
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This research was financially supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil) and by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES-Brazil) from the regents and from scholarships for students.
All experimental procedures were carried out following the recommendations of the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching, and the protocol was submitted to the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Campina Grande and approved (Protocol number 113-2018).
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Beltrão, E.S., de Azevedo Silva, A.M., Filho, J.M.P. et al. Effect of different blend levels of spineless cactus and Mombasa hay as roughage on intake, digestibility, ingestive behavior, and performance of lambs. Trop Anim Health Prod 53, 140 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-021-02585-7
- Alternative feed
- Average daily gain
- Dry matter intake