Effects of sun-dried Opuntia ficus-indica on feed and water intake and excretion of urine and faeces by Dorper sheep

Author: C.M.D. da C. Menezes, L.M.J. Schwalbach, W.J. Combrinck, M.D. Fair and H.O. de Waal
Year: 2010
Issue: 5
Volume: 40
Page: 491 - 494

The effects of incremental levels (0, 24 and 36%) of sun-dried and coarsely ground Opuntia cladodes in balanced diets on feed and water intake and excretion of urine and faeces were investigated. Nine Dorper wethers (mean live weight 45.3 ± 1.9 kg) were stratified according to body weight in three treatment groups and a diet randomly allocated to each group. The wethers were housed indoors in individual metabolic cages and fed the diets during a 7-day trial period. Feed and water intake and urine and faeces excretions were monitored and sampled for chemical analysis. The daily intake of feed (1096.3 ± 84.8, 1295.6 ± 80.9 and 1086.9 ± 95.8 g/day) and water (1993.3 ± 75.1, 2430.5 ± 265.3, 2295.2 ± 273.8 mL/day) for diets T0, T24 and T36 respectively, were not significantly influenced by including sun-dried Opuntia cladodes. Daily urine excretion showed no significant differences between treatments T0, T24 and T36. Inclusion of Opuntia cladodes in the diets resulted in the production of wet faeces within days, due to the presence of mucilage. Despite aesthetical aspects no detrimental effects were noted in the sheep. On the contrary, diet T36 had a significantly higher digestibility than diet T0, particularly for DM (digestibility coefficients = 0.723 ± 0.01 and 0.653 ± 0.01, respectively) and excreted less faecal DM (250.0 ± 21.1 vs. 345.2 ± 20.1 g/day).

Keywords: Cactus pear, digestibility, mucilage, sheep diets, wet faeces
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