Seasonal Variations in Voluntary Intake and Apparent Digestibility of Forages in Goats Grazing on Introduced Leymus chinensis Pasture

  • Sun, Zewei (Institute of Animal Science and Technology, Jilin Agricultural University) ;
  • Wang, Zaisen (American Institute for Goat Research, Langston University) ;
  • Zhong, Qingzhen (Institute of Animal Science and Technology, Jilin Agricultural University) ;
  • Zhou, Daowei (Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Science)
  • Received : 2013.09.04
  • Accepted : 2014.01.24
  • Published : 2014.06.01


The nutrient composition of pasture, voluntary intake and digestibility of diet ingested by goats grazing on an introduced Leymus chinensis pasture were measured across spring (May), summer (July), autumn (October) and winter (March). In each season, 12 Inner Mongolian Cashmere goats (6 wethers and 6 does with an average live weight of $22.2{\pm}1.3$ kg and $19.5{\pm}0.8$ kg, respectively) were used to graze on a 2 hectares size paddock. Diet selection was observed and the plant parts selected by grazing goats and whole plant L. chinensis were sampled simultaneously. The alkane pair $C_{32}:C_{33}$ and $C_{36}$ were used to estimate intake and digestibility, respectively. The results showed that the plant parts selected by goats had higher crude protein (CP) and lower acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) than the whole plant, especially in the autumn and winter. The voluntary intake of dry matter (DM), CP, ADF, NDF, and metabolizable energy (ME) by goats was highest in summer (p<0.05). The goats ingested more CP, ME, and less ADF in spring than in autumn (p<0.05). The intakes of DM, CP, and ME were lowest in winter (p<0.05). There were significant differences in nutrient intake between wethers and does in each season, except for the ADF and ME intake per metabolic weight ($LW^{0.75}$). The nutrient digestibilities were higher in spring and summer, and decreased significantly during the autumn and winter (p<0.05). Goats, especially wethers, had a relative constant NDF digestibility across seasons, however, the apparent digestibility of CP in both wethers and does, decreased to negative values in winter. The grazing goats experienced relatively sufficient nutrients supply in spring and summer, and a severe deficiency of CP and ME in winter.


Leymus chinensis;n-Alkanes;Intake;Digestibility;Goat


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