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PLoS One. 2017 Jan 5;12(1):e0169187. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169187. eCollection 2017.

Effect of Dietary Types on Feed Intakes, Growth Performance and Economic Benefit in Tibetan sheep and Yaks on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during Cold Season.

Xu T1,2,3, Xu S1,3, Hu L1,3, Zhao N1,3, Liu Z1,2, Ma L1,2,3, Liu H1,2,3, Zhao X1,3.

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Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China.


Pastoralists on the Tibetan alpine rangeland suffered great economic loss in cold season, due to serious live-weight loss of domestic livestock under traditional grazing management. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of dietary types (crude protein levels) on feed intakes, growth performance and economic returns of local Tibetan sheep and yaks during cold season. Twenty-four yearling Tibetan sheep (25.29±3.95 kg LW) and twenty two-year-old yaks (100.62±4.55 kg LW) with familiar body conditions were randomly assigned to four groups, fed oats hay (OH), oats silage (OS), total mixed ration (TMR) and traditionally grazed on the local cool-season pasture (TG), respectively, over a 135-day experiment. Daily dry matter intake was determined; all animals were weighed at the beginning and every 15 days of the 135-day experiment. Then, the total live-weight gain, average daily live-weight gain, gain rate, feed efficiency and net economic benefit were calculated. Results indicated that feed and nutrient intakes (DMI, DMI/kg LW, DMI/kg LW0.75 and CPI) of TMR, OH and OS were higher than TG (P < 0.05). Grazing animals suffered serious live-weight loss, while TMR, OS and OH significantly (P < 0.05) improved total live-weight gain and gain rate in both Tibetan sheep and yaks during the entire experiment. TMR worked better in animal performance and feed efficiency, obtained the highest breeding profit in both Tibetan sheep and yaks among four treatments (P < 0.05). When expressed on net economic benefit, TMR shared the highest net economic benefit in Tibetan sheep, OH shared the highest net economic benefit in yaks, but, no significant difference of net economic benefit in yaks fed TMR and OH diets was determined (P > 0.05). Results indicated that TMR was a reasonable diet in promoting feed intakes, animal performance, feed efficiency and economic returns in domestic livestock, which should be considered by local herdsmen to increase their breeding profit during cold season.

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