The University of Arizona

Effects of Flourensia cernua ingestion on intake, digesta kinetics, and ruminal fermentation of sheep consuming tobosa.

D.W. King, R.E. Estell, E.L. Fredrickson, K.M. Havstad, J.D. Wallace, L.W. Murray


Tarbush (Flourensia cernua DC.) contributes substantially to the Chihuahuan Desert shrub biomass, but is browsed sparingly by livestock. This study was designed to assess nutritional benefits and/or toxicosis of ingestion of pre-bloom tarbush leaves by sheep fed a low quality native grass diet. Sixteen ruminally cannulated sheep (46 kg) housed in individual pens were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments for 28 days. Treatments were ground tobosa grass (Pleuraphis mutica Buckl.) substituted with 0, 10, 20, or 30% (dry matter basis) whole tarbush leaves (19% CP). At 20 and 30% of the diet, tarbush increased (P = 0.0049) dry matter intake during week 3, and sheep consuming 30% tarbush tended to increase dry matter intake during week 2 (P = 0.0559). Dietary tarbush did not affect any variable associated with ruminal fluid kinetics, particulate digesta kinetics, or in situ degradation rates of tobosa dry matter or neutral detergent fiber (P > 0.05). Molar butyrate proportions (P = 0.0032) and total volatile fatty acid concentrations (P = 0.0064) were greater for the 30% tarbush treatments. Ruminal ammonia was greater (P < 0.0029) at 6, 8, and 12 hours postfeeding for the 30% tarbrush treatment. Sheep lost body weight regardless of treatment; however, sheep not fed tarbush boded (P = 0.0945) to lose more weight. &rum clinical profiles (day 0, 7, 15, and 21) confirmed nutritional stress but did not suggest toxicosis.


pleuraphis mutica;volatile fatty acids;dose response;leaves;Flourensia;rumen fluids;water intake;body weight;fiber content;crude protein;digesta;pH;transit time;sheep;rumen fermentation;grasses;New Mexico;dry matter;feed intake

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