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Effects of method of offering broiler litter and level of prairie hay intake on growth of Boer x Spanish wethers

Y. Mekasha, R. C. Merkel, A. L. Goetsch, T. Sahlu, and K. Tesfai

E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK

Thirty-four Boer x Spanish wethers (18 0.3 kg initial BW) were used in a 12-wk experiment (2 x 2 + 1 factorial arrangement of treatments) to determine effects of ad libitum consumption of broiler litter (B) alone or mixed with corn (60% B; BC) and of ad libitum vs restricted (R) prairie hay (H) intake on feed intake and growth performance. Treatments were ad libitum H + an average of 22 g/d of mineral/vitamin supplement (Control, C); ad libitum H and B (AH-B); ad libitum H and BC (AH-BC); intake of 1% BW (DM) of H + ad libitum B (RH-B); and 1% BW of H + ad libitum BC (RH-BC). Hay DM intake averaged 494, 442, 336, 175, and 160 g/d (SE = 16.7), and total DM intake was 516, 700, 782, 474, and 585 g/d (SE = 26.2) for C, AH-B, AH-BC, RH-B, and RH-BC, respectively. Overall ADG ranked (P < 0.05) AH-BC > AH-B and RH-BC > C and RH-B (-6, 34, 79, 3, and 50 g); the ratio of ADG:DM intake ranked (P < 0.05) AH-BC and RH-BC > AH-B > C and RH-B (-13, 49, 97, 5, and 85 g/kg) for C, AH-B, AH-BC, RH-B, and RH-BC, respectively. In summary, offering B alone free-choice increased ADG by Boer cross goats when consuming H ad libitum but not with H intake restricted to 1% BW. The lower ADG:DM intake ratio for AH-B vs RH-BC indicates less efficient utilization of H than corn, although similar ADG reflects compensation via greater H intake. Mixing corn with B increased ADG similarly with both ad libitum and restricted H intake. In conclusion, depending on production goals and availability of high-quality feedstuffs such as cereal grains, free-choice consumption of B may be a simple and useful method of supplementing low-quality forage.


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