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Open AccessArticle

Influence of Farming Conditions on the Rumen of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)

1
Department of Biodiversity Protection, Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy of Sciences (IARFR PAS), 10-748 Olsztyn, Poland
2
Department of Biological Function of Food, Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy of Sciences (IARFR PAS), 10-748 Olsztyn, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 601; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090601
Received: 5 August 2019 / Revised: 21 August 2019 / Accepted: 21 August 2019 / Published: 23 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
The diet offered to an animal in captivity may considerably differ from the natural one; this can affect the development of the digestive system, with connected influence on the health condition and welfare of the animal. Through a comparison of morphological and environmental characteristics of the rumen of red deer, we found out that, during autumn season, farmed deer have a limited choice of diet compared to wild ones living in the forest; this condition affected the morphology of the rumen wall and the composition of the rumen microbial population in the farmed animals. We recommend increasing the diversity of food offered to animals in captivity, with the aim of minimizing the negative effects of a poor variety of the diet on the digestive system.
The red deer is an intermediate feeder, showing a marked degree of forage selectivity, with seasonal morphological adaptations due to changes in food quality and availability. In captivity, deer have a limited choice of habitat and food, and we hypothesize that this condition affects the rumen environment. Rumen samples were collected from 20 farmed and 11 wild red deer in autumn 2018 in Poland, and analyzed for chemical composition, food residues, microbial population, and rumen papillation. Farmed deer had the highest Campylobacter spp., and total anaerobic bacteria, but lower Clostridium spp. Moreover, they showed a decrease in Diplodininae protozoa, and the presence of holotrichs that were absent in the wild animals. The rumen digesta of farmed animals had lower dry matter and acid detergent fiber than the wild ones. The analysis of food residues underlined the poor variety of the diet for animals in the farm. This apparently affected the papillation of the rumen, with animals of the farm having the shortest papillae of the Atrium ruminis. Overall, results suggest that red deer kept in farms, with a diet based mainly on grass, tree leaves, and some concentrate supplements, undergo a small modification of the rumen compared to the wild conspecifics. View Full-Text
Keywords: red deer; rumen; nutrition; diet; rumen protozoa; rumen bacteria; rumen papillae red deer; rumen; nutrition; diet; rumen protozoa; rumen bacteria; rumen papillae
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Mason, F.; Fotschki, B.; Di Rosso, A.; Korzekwa, A. Influence of Farming Conditions on the Rumen of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus). Animals 2019, 9, 601.

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