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Effects of the absence of protozoa from birth or from weaning on the growth and methane production of lambs

  • R. S. Hegarty (a1), S. H. Bird (a1), B. A. Vanselow (a1) and R. Woodgate (a1)
Abstract

Merino ewes (n 108) joined to a single sire were allocated into three flocks, with ewes in one flock being chemically defaunated in the second month of gestation. Single lambs born to defaunated ewes (BF lambs) were heavier at birth and at weaning than lambs born to faunated ewes (F lambs). After weaning, all BF and F lambs were individually housed then half of the F lambs were chemically defaunated (DF lambs). In trial 1, BF, DF and F lambs were offered a concentrate-based diet containing either 14 or 19 % protein for a 10-week period. Wool growth rate of BF lambs was 10 % higher than that of DF or F lambs and was increased 9 % by the high-protein diet. While there was no main effect of protozoa treatment on enteric methane production, there was an interaction between protozoa treatment and diet for methane production. BF and DF lambs produced more methane than F lambs when fed the low-protein diet but when fed the high-protein diet, emissions were less than (BF lambs) or not different from (DF lambs) emissions from F lambs. In trial 2, lambs were offered 800 g roughage per d and, again, methane production was not affected by the presence of protozoa in the rumen. The data indicate that while lambs without rumen protozoa have greater protein availability than do faunated ruminants, there is no main effect of rumen protozoa on enteric methane production by lambs fed either a concentrate or roughage diet.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr R. Hegarty, fax +61 2 67701830, email roger.hegarty@dpi.nsw.gov.au
References
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British Journal of Nutrition
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