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The relationship between forage cell wall content and voluntary food intake in mammalian herbivores


Meyer, K; Hummel, J; Clauss, Marcus (2010). The relationship between forage cell wall content and voluntary food intake in mammalian herbivores. Mammal Review, 40(3):221-245.

Abstract

1.It is generally assumed that animals compensate for a declining diet quality with increasing food intake. Differences in the response to decreasing forage quality in herbivores have been postulated particularly between cattle (ruminants) and horses (hindgut fermenters). However, empirical tests for both assumptions in herbivorous mammals are rare.
2.We collected data on voluntary food intake in mammals on forage-only diets and related this to dietary neutral detergent fibre (NDF) content, assuming a nonlinear correlation between these measurements. Generally, the paucity of corresponding data is striking.
3.Elephants and pandas showed very high food intakes that appeared unrelated to dietary fibre content. Only in small rodents, and possibly in rabbits, was an increase in food intake on forages of higher NDF content evident. In particular, other large herbivores, including horses, followed patterns of decreasing intake with increasing forage NDF, also observed in domestic cattle or sheep.
4.For large herbivores, empirical data therefore do not – so far – support the notion that intake is increased in response to declining diet quality. However, data are in accord with the assumption that most large herbivores have an anticipatory strategy of acquiring body reserves when high-quality forage is available, and reducing food intake (and potentially metabolic losses) when only low-quality forage is available.
5.Intake studies in which the influence of digestive strategy on food intake capacity is tested should be designed as long-term studies that outlast an anticipatory strategy and force animals to ingest as much as possible.
6.We suggest that a colonic separation mechanism coupled with coprophagy, in order to minimize metabolic faecal losses, is necessary below a body size threshold where an anticipatory strategy (living off body reserves, migration) is not feasible. Future studies aimed at investigating fine-scale differences, for example between equids and bovids, should focus on non-domesticated species.

Abstract

1.It is generally assumed that animals compensate for a declining diet quality with increasing food intake. Differences in the response to decreasing forage quality in herbivores have been postulated particularly between cattle (ruminants) and horses (hindgut fermenters). However, empirical tests for both assumptions in herbivorous mammals are rare.
2.We collected data on voluntary food intake in mammals on forage-only diets and related this to dietary neutral detergent fibre (NDF) content, assuming a nonlinear correlation between these measurements. Generally, the paucity of corresponding data is striking.
3.Elephants and pandas showed very high food intakes that appeared unrelated to dietary fibre content. Only in small rodents, and possibly in rabbits, was an increase in food intake on forages of higher NDF content evident. In particular, other large herbivores, including horses, followed patterns of decreasing intake with increasing forage NDF, also observed in domestic cattle or sheep.
4.For large herbivores, empirical data therefore do not – so far – support the notion that intake is increased in response to declining diet quality. However, data are in accord with the assumption that most large herbivores have an anticipatory strategy of acquiring body reserves when high-quality forage is available, and reducing food intake (and potentially metabolic losses) when only low-quality forage is available.
5.Intake studies in which the influence of digestive strategy on food intake capacity is tested should be designed as long-term studies that outlast an anticipatory strategy and force animals to ingest as much as possible.
6.We suggest that a colonic separation mechanism coupled with coprophagy, in order to minimize metabolic faecal losses, is necessary below a body size threshold where an anticipatory strategy (living off body reserves, migration) is not feasible. Future studies aimed at investigating fine-scale differences, for example between equids and bovids, should focus on non-domesticated species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:July 2010
Deposited On:05 Jul 2010 21:44
Last Modified:08 Sep 2016 07:39
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0305-1838
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2907.2010.00161.x
Related URLs:http://www.zora.uzh.ch/41264/

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