Effect of Three Different Species of Hay on Dry-matter Intake and Serum Cortisol of Ewes

Sekine, J.;Abdel-Rahman, Mootaz A.M.;Ismail, A.El-Moez A.;Dosoky, R.M.;Kamel, H.E.M.;Hishinuma, M.

  • Received : 2003.01.03
  • Accepted : 2003.05.13
  • Published : 2003.09.01


To determine whether the feeding of different species of hay affects the dry-matter intake and the serum cortisol level of sheep, 6 non-pregnant, non-lactating ewes were offered alfalfa (Medicago sativa) hay (Al), oats (Avena sativa) hay (Ot) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) hay (Pr) under 6 kinds of treatment including 1) change from Al to Ot, 2) Al to Pr, 3) Ot to Al, 4) Ot to Pr, 5) Pr to Al, and 6) Pr to Ot. The experimental design was a 6${\times}$6 Latin square with a 14 day period of which 9 days were a preliminary period and 5 days as a digestion trial period. The change in hay feeding was done abruptly on the first day of each period without an adaptation period. The blood from the jugular vein was collected on the first, third and the last day of each period through a sterile catheter for the analysis of cortisol. The dry-matter intake was recorded daily throughout the period. The mean daily intake of dry matter (DM, g/kg live weight) was significantly different among the 3 species of hay (Al>Ot>Pr; p<0.05). The digestibility of DM for Al and Ot was the same, but that for Pr was significantly lower than Al and Ot (p<0.05). The mean serum cortisol levels were significantly different among the hays (p<0.05). The level for Pr was the highest and that for Al was the lowest. The abrupt change of hay feeding of 6 treatments produced a significant change in the serum cortisol levels. The DM intake was inversely related to the change of the cortisol level. It is suggested that the animal' intake response to different species of hay may be partly motivated by the psychological feelings toward the hay offered.


Forage;Dry-matter Intake;Forage;Serum Cortisol;Sheep


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