Effects of Energy Source and Food Flavor on Conditioned Preferences in Sheep
Journal of Animal Science
American Society of Animal Science
Ralphs, M. H., Provenza, F. D., Wiedmeier, R. D., & Bunderson, F. B. (1995). Effects of energy source and food flavor on conditioned preferences in sheep. Journal of Animal Science, 73(6), 1651-1657.
Livestock and range managers would have a powerful tool to direct utilization and modify plant communities if animals could be conditioned to eat specific foods or plants. We attempted to condition preferences for a low-quality forage through nutrient loading. Sheep were fed licorice or orange-flavored straw pellets then were gavaged with glucose or propionate (.381 Mcal, which amounted to approximately 13% of the daily maintenance energy requirement) or water. Four groups of ewes (n = 4) were arranged in a cross-blocked design such that each group received a unique energy/flavor combination: 1) propionate+licorice, 2) propionate+orange, 3) glucose+licorice, or 4) glucose+orange. On alternate days, each group received the other flavor plus water to create an internal control. At the end of 8 d of conditioning, preference for the two flavors was measured by two-choice preference tests. A second trial was conducted for 4 d in which the energy level was doubled to .762 Mcal. Low energy levels of either glucose or propionate did not create significant preferences. Propionate at the low-level caused satiety but at the high level conditioned an aversion to both flavors. This high level of propionate apparently caused malaise that was then associated with the taste of the flavors. The high level of glucose conditioned a preference. The high glucose treatment increased rumen microbial mass, the nutrients of which would have been absorbed in the lower gastrointestinal tract, and may have indirectly provided the positive nutrient feedback required to form a preference. There was a flavor preference for orange that was independent of the energy supplements.