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Br J Nutr. 1982 Sep;48(2):329-39.

The measurement of liquid and solid digesta retention in ruminants, equines and rabbits given timothy (Phleum pratense) hay.


1. Digesta passage and retention were measured in heifers, sheep, goats, equines and rabbits of varying body-weights when given timothy (Phleum pratense) hay. 2. Two passage markers were compared, cobalt (III) ethylene diamine tetraacetate (CoEDTA) and chromiummordanted timothy fibre for liquid and solid phase respectively. Both markers were injected into the rumen of the ruminants and into the caecum of the equines and rabbits. 3. In ruminants, two different sets of rate constants (k1 and k2) were derived from a two-pool model for marker passage, using a graphical approach and a computer-based non-linear least-squares curve-fitting technique. 4. Retention times, due to unidirectional flow through the gastrointestinal tract (transit time) and due to pool effects (mean retention time, MRT), were calculated. 5. Curve fitting was only successful for the excretion of liquids in ruminants. The two-pool model was not applicable to the passage of solids. 6. Apparent retention of liquid was always shorter than for solids in all species, except in rabbits. However, absorption of CoEDTA was too large in the rabbits to determine liquid retention accurately. Times for first appearance of the two markers were similar within animal groups. 7. MRT values were lowest in the rabbit, intermediate in equines and high in the ruminants. The MRT values (h) of solids and liquids respectively were: large heifers 65, 18; small heifers 48, 20; goats 41, 28; sheep 57, 26; equines 23, 18; rabbits 5.3, not determined. 8. Liquid retention seemed to decrease somewhat with increasing body-weight in the ruminants. Solids retention decreased with decreasing body-weight in the ruminants, but sheep had longer retention times than goats of similar size. Equines exhibited large individual variation in retention of the liquid or solid markers, seemingly unrelated to size. No effect of size was seen in the retention of solids in the rabbits.

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