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Br J Nutr. 1993 Jan;69(1):37-47.

Factors affecting the voluntary intake of food by sheep. 6. The effect of monosodium glutamate on the palatability of straw diets by sham-fed and normal animals.

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Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Sheep with oesophageal fistulas were used in sham-feeding experiments to assess how sham intakes were affected by (a) physical form of straw (finely and coarsely ground; ground and pelleted), (b) type of food (straw pellets v. lucerne (Medicago sativa) hay pellets) and (c) additions of monosodium glutamate (MSG) with or without NaCl to the various straw diets. Normal animals were also fed on diets with and without MSG. Sham intakes of fine-ground loose straw (25 g/30 min) were markedly less (P = 0.002) than those of ground and pelleted straw (711 g/30 min). However, MSG at 5-40 g/kg fine and coarse ground straw increased sham intakes by 146 (P = 0.04) and 164% (P = 0.01) respectively. These findings indicated that the intakes of poor-quality diets can be increased by compacting them or by improving their palatability with MSG, or both. Sham intakes of straw pellets in two experiments were 32 (P = 0.02) and 45% (P = 0.008) of those of lucerne pellets (436 v. 1366 and 737 v. 1640 g/30 min). However, MSG at 20 g/kg straw pellets increased sham intakes from 674 to 1100 g/30 min (P = 0.05). When the MSG was mixed with NaCl (20 g/kg), the intakes of straw pellets were increased from 1089 to 1512 g/30 min (P = 0.02). Thus, the addition of MSG with or without NaCl increased the intakes of straw pellets. The highest intakes of the straw pellets treated with MSG were similar to those for lucerne pellets. When MSG-treated ammoniated barley straw (10 g/kg) was fed to normal sheep, the MSG increased DM intakes by 10% (719-789 g/d; P = 0.04). MSG sprayed onto grass hay (10 g/kg) did not, however, affect daily DM intakes by these sheep. In general, the findings indicate that the intake of straw by ruminants may be increased by compressing it to form pellets or cubes and by adding MSG.

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