Effects of concentrate input on nutrient utilization and methane emissions of two breeds of ewe lambs fed fresh ryegrass

The objective of this study was to evaluate if high-quality grass could sustain a similar feeding efficiency to concentrate meals for two breeds of lowland ewe lambs. Sixteen lowland ewe lambs of approximately 13 mo age and 61.5 ± 5.28 kg live weight were used in a 2 × 2 factorial study, with 2 diets (fresh perennial ryegrass [Lolium perenne] vs. fresh perennial ryegrass plus 0.5 kg/d fresh concentrate) × 2 breeds (Highlander vs. Texel). Grass was cut daily in the morning from a single zero-grazing sward and offered ad libitum. The animals were individually housed in pens and fed experimental diets for an adaptation phase of 19 d, and then transferred to respiration calorimeter chambers, remaining there for 5 d, with feed intake, feces and urine outputs, and methane (CH4) emissions measured during the final 4 d. There were no significant interaction effects between diets and breeds on any variables. Ewe lambs offered 0.5 kg/d concentrate supplementation had slightly greater DM intake and energy (GE, DE, and ME) intake, but had significantly higher N intake and N excretion in feces and urine than those fed the grass-only diet. However, diets had no significant effects on nutrient digestibility, energy or N utilization, or CH4 emission. Texel breed had a significantly lower DM intake and CH4 emissions per kg live weight, whereas the breed had no significant effect on nutrient digestibility or energy or N utilization. These results implicate that good quality grass could sustain high nutrient utilization efficiency as effectively as diets supplemented with concentrates for ewe lamb production. The two breeds of lowland ewe lambs can utilize good quality grass at a similar level of efficiency.
Publication history: Accepted - 29 September 2018; Published onlilne -11 October 2018; Published - January 2019.
Wang, C., Zhao, Y., Aubry, A., Arnott, G., Hou, F. and Yan, T. (2018) ‘Effects of concentrate input on nutrient utilization and methane emissions of two breeds of ewe lambs fed fresh ryegrass’, Translational Animal Science. Oxford University Press (OUP). doi:10.1093/tas/txy106