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Tethering meat goats grazing forage of high nutritive value and low to moderate mass

A. K. Patra, R. Puchala, G. Detweiler, L. J. Dawson, G. Animut, T. Sahlu, and A. L. Goetsch

Journal of Animal Science 84(Supplement 1):27. 2006

Twenty-four yearling Boer x Spanish goats were used to determine effects of tethering on forage selection, intake, and digestibility, grazing behavior, and energy expenditure (EE) with forage of high nutritive value and low to moderate mass. Four 0.72-ha pastures of wheat (Triticum aestivum) and berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrium) were grazed in December and January. Each pasture hosted six animals, three with free movement and three attached to a 4.11 m tether for access to a circular area of 53.1 m2. One animal of each treatment and pasture was used to determine forage selection, fecal output, or grazing behavior and EE. Measures were in the second week of 2-wk periods. Mass of forage DM before grazing in Tethered areas averaged 1,280 and 1,130 kg/ha in periods 1 and 2, respectively. The CP concentration in ingesta was greater ((P < 0.05) 23.9 and 20.9%; SE = 0.80) and the NDF level was lower (P < 0.05) for Free vs Tethered animals (50.3 and 53.8%; SE = 1.20); in vitro true DM digestion was similar between treatments (80.8 and 80.7% for Free and Tethered, respectively; SE = 0.96). Intakes of DM (1,013 and 968 g/day; SE = 78.6), NDF (511 and 521 g/d; SE = 39.9), and ME (10.9 and 10.7 MJ/d; SE = 0.90) were similar between treatments, but CP intake was greater (P < 0.05) for Free vs Tethered animals (241 and 203 g/d; SE = 17.2). There were small treatment differences in in vivo apparent digestiiblity of OM ((P < 0.05); 78.0 and 81.4%; SE = 0.49), CP ((P < 0.05); 80.0 and 81.7%; SE = 0.67), and NDF ((P < 0.08) 77.7 and 76.0% for Free and Tethered, respectively; SE = 0.78). There were no treatment effects on time spent ruminating, idle, or eating (346 and 347 min/d for Free and Tethered, respectively; SE = 42.5). Energy expenditure was considerably greater (P < 0.05) for Free vs Tethered animals (571 and 489 kJ/kg BW0.75 for Free and Tethered, respectively; SE = 8.9). Based on estimates of ME intake and recovered energy and an assumed efficiency of use of ME for energy accretion, this difference equated to an energy cost for free movement of 111 kJ/kg BW0.75. A greater distance traveled for Free than for Tethered goats presumably accounted for some but doubtfully all of this difference, suggesting that free movement influenced other physiological conditions impacting EE. In conclusion, tethering would seem to offer a production advantage over free grazing of less energy used for activity and may not be a perfect model of ones with free movement for all areas.


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