Send to

Choose Destination
J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2014 Aug;98(4):659-66. doi: 10.1111/jpn.12118. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Faecal nitrogen excretion as an approach to estimate forage intake of wethers.

Author information

Departamento de Zootecnia (Animal Science Department), Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil.


Data from twenty-two digestibility trials were compiled to examine the relationship between faecal N concentration and organic matter (OM) digestibility (OMD), and between faecal N excretion and OM intake (OMI) by wethers fed tropical or temperate forages alone or with supplements. Data set was grouped by diet type as follows: only tropical grass (n = 204), only temperate grass (n = 160), tropical grass plus supplement (n = 216), temperate grass plus supplement (n = 48), tropical grass plus tropical legume (n = 60) and temperate grass with ruminal infusion of tannins (n = 16). Positive correlation between OMD and either total faecal N concentration (Nfc, % of OM) or metabolic faecal N concentration (Nmetfc, % of OM) was significant for most diet types. Exceptions were the diet that included a tropical legume, where both relationships were negative, and the diet that included tannin extract, where the correlation between OMD and Nfc was not significant. Pearson correlation and linear regressions between OM intake (OMI, g/day) and faecal N excretion (Nf, g/day) were significant for all diet types. When OMI was estimated from the OM faecal excretion and Nfc-based OMD values, the linear comparison between observed and estimated OMI values showed intercept different from 0 and slope different from 1. When OMI was estimated using the Nf-based linear regressions, the linear comparison between observed and estimated OMI values showed neither intercept different from 0 nor slope different from 1. Both linear comparisons showed similar R(2) values (i.e. 0.78 vs. 0.79). In conclusion, linear equations are suitable for directly estimating OM intake by wethers, fed only forage or forage plus supplements, from the amount of N excreted in faeces. The use of this approach in experiments with grazing wethers has the advantage of accounting for individual variations in diet selection and digestion processes and precludes the use of techniques to estimate forage digestibility.


digestibility; faecal N; methodology; sheep

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center