Special Issue "Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. María Dolores Carro Website E-Mail
Departamento de Producción Agraria, Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: ruminant nutrition; digestive physiology; methane, rumen microbiota, feed additives to modify rumen fermentation, feed evaluation
Guest Editor
Prof. Eduarda Molina-Alcaide Website E-Mail
Department of Physiology and Biochemistry of Animal Nutrition, Estación Experimental del Zaidin (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), C/ ProfesorAlbareda 1, 18008, Granada, Spain
Interests: proteins, animal production, animal nutrition, digestive physiology, ruminant nutrition, feed evaluation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world’s population of sheep and goats is 1.2 and 1.0 billion heads, respectively, and is mainly located in Asia and Africa. Small ruminants have an important role as providers of high-quality food for humans without competing for potentially human-edible feed resources. Sheep, and especially goats, have also a great capacity to adapt to adverse conditions such as arid and semi-arid ecosystems that will increase in the future as a result of climate change. Small ruminants can be raised under a wide range of production systems, from intensive production farming systems to small-scale traditional farming. In any of these systems, nutrition is key to ensuring the sustainability and efficiency of production, but also influences animal health, the quality of products (milk and meat), and levels of polluting emissions. Progress in feeding strategies depends to a large extent on the advances made in the knowledge of small ruminant metabolism, and especially of the role of rumen microbiota. Developments in the knowledge of protein and energy metabolism, the rumen microbiota, the influence of early feeding on adult metabolism, new sources of nutrients, and the influence of nutrition on environmental impacts and product quality, among others, are needed. Contributions on any of these topics or others related to them, including original research papers and literature reviews, are welcome for this Special Issue.

Prof. María Dolores Carro
Prof. Eduarda Molina-Alcaide
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sheep
  • goats
  • metabolism
  • nutrition
  • methane
  • nitrogen
  • rumen fermentation and microbiota
  • feeds
  • early feeding
  • immunity

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Partial Replacement of Conventional with Alternative Feeds on Nutrient Intake, Digestibility, Milk Yield and Composition of Awassi Ewes and Lambs
Animals 2019, 9(9), 684; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090684 - 15 Sep 2019
Abstract
Two experiments were done to assess the effects of alternative feeds (AF; dried distillers grains with solubles, carob pods, olive cake, and bread by-product) on lactating performance of ewes and digestibility and nitrogen (N) retention of lambs. Diets were: no AF (CON); 200 [...] Read more.
Two experiments were done to assess the effects of alternative feeds (AF; dried distillers grains with solubles, carob pods, olive cake, and bread by-product) on lactating performance of ewes and digestibility and nitrogen (N) retention of lambs. Diets were: no AF (CON); 200 g/kg AF (AF200); and 400 g/kg AF (AF400). In Experiment 1, 27 Awassi ewes were randomly distributed into three groups, and each was fed one of the diets described before (9 ewes/diet). Evaluation of milk composition and yield was performed at the beginning of the experiment and on days 18, 36, and 54. In Experiment 2, 18 Awassi lambs were allocated to the same diets (6 ewe lambs/diet) during a 21-day trial (14 days housed individually in shaded pens and 7 days in metabolic cages). In Experiment 1, no differences in body weight (BW) of the ewes and their lambs were detected. With the exception of neutral detergent fiber intake, which was lower in the AF-containing diets compared with CON, dry matter, crude protein, and acid detergent fiber intake were not affected by dietary treatment. Milk yield and composition was comparable among diets, and the cost of milk production was lower in AF compared to CON diet. In Experiment 2, nutrient digestibility and N retention were not affected by the diet. Results showed the possibility of including different AF in ewe and lamb diets to mitigate production cost without negatively affecting intake, milk yield, and composition, digestibility, and animal welfare and health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
Open AccessArticle
Effects of Incremental Urea Supplementation on Rumen Fermentation, Nutrient Digestion, Plasma Metabolites, and Growth Performance in Fattening Lambs
Animals 2019, 9(9), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090652 - 04 Sep 2019
Abstract
This study investigated the effects of partially substituting soybean meal (SBM) with incremental amount of urea on rumen fermentation, nutrient digestion, plasma metabolites, and growth performance in fattening lambs. Seventy fattening male lambs were sorted into two blocks according to body weight (BW) [...] Read more.
This study investigated the effects of partially substituting soybean meal (SBM) with incremental amount of urea on rumen fermentation, nutrient digestion, plasma metabolites, and growth performance in fattening lambs. Seventy fattening male lambs were sorted into two blocks according to body weight (BW) and assigned to one of five dietary treatments in a randomized block design: SBM at 170 g/kg dry matter (DM) or reduced SBM (40 g/kg DM) plus 0, 10, 20, or 30 g urea/kg DM. Compared with the lambs receiving the SBM diet, the lambs fed the reduced SBM diet plus urea had higher (p < 0.01) concentrations of ruminal ammonia, and the ruminal concentration of ammonia also increased linearly (p < 0.01) with the increasing urea supplementation. Linear and quadratic effects (p < 0.01) on the crude protein (CP) intake and digestibility were observed with the increasing urea addition to the diet. The concentrations of plasma ammonia and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) increased (linear, p < 0.01; quadratic, p < 0.01) with the increasing urea supplementation. The final BW, DM intake (DMI), average daily gain (ADG), and gain efficiency were similar (p ≥ 0.42) between the SBM group and the urea-supplemented groups. However, the DMI and ADG increased quadratically (p ≤ 0.03) with the increasing urea addition to the diet, with the 10 g urea/kg DM diet resulting in the highest DMI and ADG. The results of this study demonstrated that 10 g urea could substitute 130 g soybean meal per kg feed DM without any adverse effect on growth performance or health in fattening lambs when fed a high concentrate diet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
Open AccessArticle
Effect of Diet and Type of Pregnancy on Transcriptional Expression of Selected Genes in Sheep Mammary Gland
Animals 2019, 9(9), 589; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090589 - 21 Aug 2019
Abstract
These trials were carried out to determine firstly the effect of diet and type of pregnancy on the transcriptional expression of genes involved in angiogenesis and cell turnover/lactogenesis inside the sheep mammary gland from late gestation to late lactation. Eighteen Ile de France [...] Read more.
These trials were carried out to determine firstly the effect of diet and type of pregnancy on the transcriptional expression of genes involved in angiogenesis and cell turnover/lactogenesis inside the sheep mammary gland from late gestation to late lactation. Eighteen Ile de France sheep, 8 twin- and 10 single-bearing ewes were alloted into two groups according to their diet, either based on ad libitum naturalized pasture or red clover hay plus lupine from day −45 pre-partum until day +60 post-partum. Samples from diets and mammary glands were collected at day −10 pre partum (time 1), day +30 (time 2) and day +60 post-partum (time 3) and analyzed by qRT-PCR. Additionally, samples from longissimus dorsi muscle were taken from lambs twice, at weaning and 45 days later, to determine the effect of the maternal treatment with regard to diet and type of pregnancy, on the mRNA expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism. The data was processed using the lme4 package for R, and SPSS Statistics 23.0 for Windows®. The results showed that the group of twin-bearing ewes fed red clover showed a higher expression of genes involved in angiogenesis before lambing and in cell turnover/lactogenesis during late lactation, explained by a lamb survival mechanism to delay apoptosis as a way to keep a secretory cells population and boosted by the diet quality, assuring a longer milk production potential during late lactation. Regarding lambs, apparently the maternal diet would influence the transcriptional expression of lipogenic enzymes in the longissimus dorsi muscle after weaning, but further studies are necessary to validate these results. In summary, Twin-bearing ewes fed red clover performed best at increasing the expression of genes associated with angiogenesis and cell turnover/lactogenesis in the mammary gland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
Open AccessArticle
Lactational Responses of Heat-Stressed Dairy Goats to Dietary L-Carnitine Supplementation
Animals 2019, 9(8), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080567 - 16 Aug 2019
Abstract
Heat stress causes significant losses in milk production, and nutritional strategies are needed to alleviate its effects. Endogenous carnitine synthesis is also reduced by heat stress (HS). Carnitine plays a central role in fatty acid oxidation and buffers the toxic effects of acyl [...] Read more.
Heat stress causes significant losses in milk production, and nutritional strategies are needed to alleviate its effects. Endogenous carnitine synthesis is also reduced by heat stress (HS). Carnitine plays a central role in fatty acid oxidation and buffers the toxic effects of acyl groups. We hypothesized that carnitine supplementation would make up for any carnitine deficiencies during HS and improve lipid metabolism. The objective was to evaluate rumen-protected L-carnitine (CAR) supplementation in dairy goats under thermo-neutral (TN) or HS conditions. Four Murciano-Granadina dairy goats were used in a four × four Latin square design. Goats were allocated to one of four treatments in a two × two factorial arrangement. Factors were 1) diet: control (CON) or supplementation with CAR (1 g/d); and 2) ambient conditions: TN (15 to 20 °C) or HS (0900 to 2100 h at 35 °C, 2100 to 0900 h at 28 °C). Blood free-, acetyl-, and total-carnitine concentrations increased almost three times by supplementation. Despite this efficient absorption, CAR had no effect on feed intake, milk production or blood metabolites in TN or HS conditions. Heat stress increased rectal temperature and respiratory rate. Additionally, HS goats experienced 26% loss in feed intake, but they tended to eat longer particle sizes. Compared to TN, heat-stressed goats lost more subcutaneous fat (difference in fat thickness measured before and after each period = −0.72 vs. +0.64 mm). In conclusion, supplemented L-carnitine was efficiently absorbed, but it had no lactational effects on performance of goats under thermo-neutral or heat stress conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
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Open AccessCommunication
Effect of Varying Inclusion Levels of Fossil Shell Flour on Growth Performance, Water Intake, Digestibility and N Retention in Dohne-Merino Wethers
Animals 2019, 9(8), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080565 - 16 Aug 2019
Abstract
This study was carried out to determine the effect of varying levels of Fossil shell flour (FSF) supplementation on growth performance, water intake, digestibility and N retention in Dohne Merino sheep pursuant to establishing the optimum inclusion rate of this supplement in Dohne [...] Read more.
This study was carried out to determine the effect of varying levels of Fossil shell flour (FSF) supplementation on growth performance, water intake, digestibility and N retention in Dohne Merino sheep pursuant to establishing the optimum inclusion rate of this supplement in Dohne Merino diets. Sixteen Dohne-Merino wethers (18 ± 1.5 kg body weight) were used in a complete randomized design with four animals per treatment. Sheep were fed a basal diet without FSF addition (control, T1), or with the addition of FSF (2%, T2), (4%, T3) or (6%, T4) of the diet for 105 days. Treatment 3 (4% FSF) has the highest values of dry matter intake, total weight gain, N retention and for most of the apparent digestibility nutrients (CP, EE and Ash) compared to treatment T1, T2 and T4(p < 0.05). The urinary and fecal N excretion also significantly decreased in the FSF treated diets compared to the control (p < 0.05). Water intake values were highest in control and were significantly (p < 0.05) different from those in treatments 2 and 4, but not to treatment 3. It is concluded that 4% inclusion rate of FSF will give the best improvement on growth performance, diet digestibility and N retention of Dohne-Merino sheep. Also, the addition of FSF in the diets of sheep is a safe natural additive that can help to reduce environmental pollution by reducing fecal and urinary N excretion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Feeding Rumen-Protected Sunflower Seed and Meal Protein on Feed Intake, Diet Digestibility, Ruminal, Cecal Fermentation, and Growth Performance of Lambs
Animals 2019, 9(7), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070415 - 04 Jul 2019
Abstract
The objective of this study was to analyze the efficacy of a treatment (MAH) of sunflower seed (SS) and meal (SM) with a malic acid solution (1 M; 400 mL/kg) and heating (150 °C, 2 h) to protect protein against rumen degradation and [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to analyze the efficacy of a treatment (MAH) of sunflower seed (SS) and meal (SM) with a malic acid solution (1 M; 400 mL/kg) and heating (150 °C, 2 h) to protect protein against rumen degradation and to improve the growth of lambs. Two homogeneous groups of 12 Lacaune lambs each (14.2 ± 0.35 kg body weight) were fed either a concentrate including untreated SS and SM or a concentrate with MAH-treated SS and SM. Lambs were fed concentrate and barley straw ad libitum for 40 days (about 26 kg body weight); feed intake and growth of lambs were recorded; blood samples were taken on days 0, 20, and the slaughter day for analysis of urea-N and amino acid-N; diet digestibility was determined; and ruminal and cecal samples were collected after slaughter. The in vitro incubation of both concentrates with sheep ruminal fluid for 12 h showed that the MAH-treatment tended to reduce NH3-N concentrations and increased propionate production. However, there were no differences (p > 0.05) between groups in any of the tested variables in the in vivo trial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
Open AccessArticle
An Open-Circuit Indirect Calorimetry Head Hood System for Measuring Methane Emission and Energy Metabolism in Small Ruminants
Animals 2019, 9(6), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060380 - 21 Jun 2019
Abstract
Methane (CH4) is a natural by-product of microbial fermentation in the rumen and is a powerful greenhouse gas. An open-circuit indirect calorimetry system for continuous determination of CH4 and CO2 production and O2 consumption and, thereafter, heat production [...] Read more.
Methane (CH4) is a natural by-product of microbial fermentation in the rumen and is a powerful greenhouse gas. An open-circuit indirect calorimetry system for continuous determination of CH4 and CO2 production and O2 consumption and, thereafter, heat production (HP) calculation for small ruminants was described and validated. The system consisted of a computerized control, data acquisition and recording system for gases and air flux. The average value ± standard deviation for the calibration factors in the system were 1.005 ± 0.0007 (n = 6), 1.013 ± 0.0012 (n = 6) and 0.988 ± 0.0035 (n = 6) for O2, CO2 and CH4, respectively. Calibration factors close to 1 confirmed the absence of leaks in the indirect calorimetry system. In addition, an experimental test with 8 goats at mid lactation was conducted to validate the system. The repeatability for CH4 and heat production measured with the open-circuit indirect calorimetry system was 79% and 61%, respectively. Daily average HP measured by indirect calorimetry (Respiration Quotient method) was close to the average HP determined from Carbon-Nitrogen balance (CN method), accounting for 685 and 667 kJ per kg metabolic body weight, respectively. Therefore, discrepancies averaged 1.92%, a rather satisfactory value considering the substantial amount of technical and analytical work involved. The close agreement found between both methods can be considered as being indicative of the absence of systematic error. Two diets with different forage were tested: 40% was either alfalfa hay (HAY) or alfalfa silage (SIL), and the proportion of concentrate was the same in both groups (60%). The experimental trial shown that HP and CH4 were higher in HAY than SIL diet (differences between treatments of 28 kJ of HP per kg of metabolic body weight and 7.1 L CH4/day were found). The data acquisition and recording device developed improved the accuracy of the indirect calorimetry system by reducing the work involved in managing output data and refining the functionality for measuring gas exchange and energy metabolism in small ruminants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Small Ruminants: Farmers’ Hope in a World Threatened by Water Scarcity
Animals 2019, 9(7), 456; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070456 - 18 Jul 2019
Abstract
The availability and sustainability of suitable and good quality drinking water is a global concern. Such uncertainties threaten livestock production with an attendant ripple effect on food security. Small ruminants, including sheep and goats, appear to be promising to smallholder farmers in solving [...] Read more.
The availability and sustainability of suitable and good quality drinking water is a global concern. Such uncertainties threaten livestock production with an attendant ripple effect on food security. Small ruminants, including sheep and goats, appear to be promising to smallholder farmers in solving this problem because of their ability to survive in water-limited areas and harsh environment when compared with large ruminants. Their small body size is also seen as an advantage, because less water will be required for proper digestion and feed utilization. Therefore, this review will provide information regarding the adaptive responses of small ruminants on thermoregulation, blood metabolites, immune status, drug pharmacokinetics, reproduction and hormonal indices during the period of water stress. Adaptable and indigenous breeds are known to be more tolerant to water stress than selected breeds. A drop in feed intake and weight reduced respiratory rate and increased concentration of blood metabolites are the general effects and/or observations that are encountered by small ruminants during the period of water stress. The concept of water tolerance either as deprivation and/or restriction of indigenous and adaptable breeds of small ruminants is gaining ground in research studies around the world. However, more research, however, seeking to explore water tolerance capacity of adaptable breeds especially in arid and water limiting areas are still needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminant Nutrition and Metabolism)
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