Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
1. Two experiments were conducted to examine the effect of grinding and pelleting roughages on the voluntary intake of food, digestibility, time of retention of food in the digestive tract, amounts of digesta in the recitulo-rumen and eating and ruminating behaviour of adult, non-lactating, non-pregnant cows. The first experiment was with artificially dried grass and the second with oat straw; also, with a diet of ground, pelleted oat straw the effect was studied of giving a daily intraruminal infusion of 150 g urea. The size of the particles of the ground roughages are given. 2. The mean voluntary intakes of long and ground dried grass were similar, the voluntary intake of ground, pelleted oat straw was 26% greater than that of long straw and the daily infusion of urea increased the voluntary intake of ground, pelleted oat straw by 53%. 3. The digestibility of the ground roughages was lower than that of the long roughages, the lower digestibility of the ground roughages was due mainly to the poor digestibility of crude fibre in the reticulo-rumen. The rate of disappearance of cotton thread placed in the ventral sac of the rumen was slower with ground than with long roughages. 4. The mean times of retention of ground roughages were shorter than those of long roughages when equal and restricted amounts of each food were given; with food offered ad lib. there was little difference between the mean times of retention of long and ground roughages in the alimentary tract. 5. On average, the mean amounts of digesta dry matter in the reticulo-rumen immediately after a meal were about the same with long and ground dried grass, with long and ground oat straw the amounts of dry matter were similar, but when the intraruminal infusion of urea was given the amount of dry matter increased by 49%. 6. The rate of eating (min/kg food) ground, pelleted roughages was much faster than that with long roughages; when the cows received ground roughage rumination did not occur but during short periods triple reticular contractions were seen. 7. The relationship between the voluntary intake of food, the amount of digesta in the reticulo-rumen and the rate of disappearance of digesta from the alimentary tract is discussed.