Interpretive Summary: The effect of a multiforage diet as opposed to a single forage diet on animal intake, performance, welfare, and urinary nitrogen excretion
By Anne Zinn
A paper recently published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to determine whether feeding animals a diet of equal proportions of cut fresh herbages alter dry matter intake, animal performance, nitrogen excretion, and animal welfare in comparison to a conventional monotonous diet of ryegrass.While there has been research conducted regarding promising effects of dietary diversity improved animal performance and productivity much of this research has been done using concentrates or conserved forage, with little information regarding the effect of fresh forages. Therefore, the research team from Lincoln University in New Zealand, using ram lambs, hypothesized that a taxonomically diverse multiforage choice diet would increase dry matter intake, improve animal performance, reduce urinary nitrogen excretion, and enhance welfare, as opposed to a monotonous diet of perennial ryegrass.
Overall, results of the present study indicate that providing animals with a multiforage choice of fresh herbages instead of a single forage diet of ryegrass increases dry matter intake and reduces the day-to-day variability of intake. This results in an improvement in performance and reduces the environmental impact by lowering urinary nitrogen excretion; all of which can potentially lead to improved animal welfare. Further research is required to better understand the potential mechanism for improved intake and mild behavior and welfare differences detected in the current study, as well as results for grazing pastures. Regardless, these results provide the basis for and outline of potential benefits of designing and establishing functionally diverse pastures
The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science webpage.