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Cattle and sheep develop preference for drinking water containing grape seed tannin*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 July 2013

S. L. Kronberg*
United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, PO Box 459, Mandan, North Dakota 58554, USA
C. S. Schauer
Hettinger Research Extension Center, North Dakota State University, Hettinger, North Dakota 58639, USA
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Ingestion of small amounts of some types of condensed tannins (CTs) by ruminant livestock can provide nutritional, environmental and economic benefits. However, practical methods are needed to make these tannins more available to ruminant livestock. Results from previous trials with crude quebracho and black wattle tannin indicated that cattle and/or sheep would not preferentially drink water containing these tannins. Therefore, we conducted preference trials to determine if cattle and sheep would learn to prefer water containing purified grape seed tannin (GST) that provided up to 2% of their daily dry matter (DM) intake. After gradual exposure to increasing amounts of this tannin in water during a pre-trial period, five adult ewes and five yearling heifers fed lucerne (Medicago sativa) pellets (19% CP) were offered water and several concentrations of GST solutions for either 15 (sheep trial) or 20 days (cattle trial). We measured intake of all liquids daily. Concentrations of blood urea were also measured for heifers when they drank only tannin solutions or water. Both sheep and cattle developed preferences for water with GST in it over water alone (P < 0.01) although this preference appeared earlier in the trial for sheep than for cattle. For the sheep, mean daily intake of water alone and all tannin solutions (in total) was 0.6 and 6.1 l, respectively. For the cattle, mean daily intake of water and all tannin solutions in total was 21.8 and 20.6 l, respectively, in the first half of the trial and 10.8 and 26.1 l, respectively, in the second half of the trial. Compared with the other tannin solutions, both sheep and cattle drank more of the solution with the highest tannin concentration (2% of daily DM intake as GST) than of water on more trial days (P < 0.05). Ingestion of water with the highest concentration of GST reduced blood plasma urea concentration in the cattle by 9% to 14% (P ⩽ 0.10) compared with ingestion of water alone. Results from the trials suggest that providing grape seed and perhaps other CTs via drinking water may be a practical way to introduce CTs into sheep and cattle diets.

Behaviour, welfare and health
animal , Volume 7 , Issue 10 , October 2013 , pp. 1714 - 1720
Copyright © The Animal Consortium. This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. 2013 

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Mention of a proprietary product does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the United States Department of Agriculture or the author and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of another product that may also be suitable. The United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All agency services are available with discrimination.


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Cattle and sheep develop preference for drinking water containing grape seed tannin*
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