Studies on Feed Intake and Nutrient Utilization of Sheep under Two Housing Systems in a Semi-arid Region of India

Bhatta, Raghavendra;Swain, N.;Verma, D.L.;Singh, N.P.

  • Received : 2003.09.14
  • Accepted : 2004.03.04
  • Published : 2004.06.01


An investigation was carried out to study the effect of two housing systems on feed intake and nutrient utilization of sheep in a semi-arid region of India. Two types of housing managements were adopted. The first was a shed- 20'${\times}$10' structure with all the four sides of 6' chain link fencing with central height of 10'. The roof was covered with asbestos sheets, with mud floorings. The second was an open corral- 20'${\times}$10' open space with all the four sides covered with 6' chain link fencing. Thirty-four (32 ewes and 2 rams) sheep were grazed together on a 35 ha plot of native range. All the sheep were grazed as a flock from 08:00 to 17:00 h during the yearlong study. The flock was divided into two groups (16 ewes+1 ram) in the evening and housed according to two housing systems (Shed and Open Corral). Three digestion trials were conducted during three defined seasons of monsoon, winter and summer seasons to determine the effect of housing on nutrient intake and utilization. Blood samples were collected in three seasons for the estimation of hemoglobin and glucose. Dry and wet bulb temperatures were recorded at 06:00 A.M. and 09:00 P.M. using suitable thermometers both inside the shed and in the open corral and temperature humidity index (THI) was calculated. There was significant (p<0.05) difference in the THI between shed and open corral in all the seasons, indicating that the shed was always warmer compared to open corral. The daily dry matter intake (DMI, g/d) was 965, 615 and 982 in sheep housed under shed and 971, 625 and 1,001 in those housed in open corral during monsoon, winter and summer season, respectively. These differences were however non-significant (p>0.05). The digestibility of DM was 45.92, 45.13 and 50.30 in sheep housed under shed and 43.64, 45.02 and 55.02 in sheep housed in open corral during monsoon, winter and summer seasons, respectively. There was no significant (p>0.05) difference in the digestibility of nutrients in sheep maintained under shed and in open corral. Blood Hb concentration was 13.97, 14.13 and 13.15 in sheep housed under shed and 15.27, 13.63 and 14.82 in those kept in open corral, whereas blood glucose concentration was 59.67, 59.70 and 52.33 in sheep under shed and 61.00, 61.00 and 57.83 in open corral, during monsoon, winter and summer, respectively. There was also no significant effect of housing on the body weight changes, wool yield and survivability in ewes. Although housing had no significant effect on nutrient intake, their utilization and blood parameters, there was significant effect on the physiological responses and energy expenditure of sheep maintained under the two housing systems (Bhatta et al., 2004). It can be concluded from this study that the housing systems didn't have any significant effect on the nutrient intake and utilization of native breed like Malpura, which were well adapted to the hot semi-arid conditions of India. However, while deciding provisions for housing of different breeds of sheep (both crossbred and native) parameters like physiological responses, energy expenditure, health conditions and overall economics of the systems should be taken into consideration.


Housing System;Sheep;Semi-arid Region;Nutrient Intake;Blood Composition


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