Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation, and Ecosystem Management (BEHAVE)


The Effect of Polyethylene Glycol on Intake of Mediterranean Shrubs by Sheep and Goats

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Journal of Animal Science






American Society of Animal Science

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Poor nutritional quality and increased content of secondary compounds can reduce consumption of Mediterranean shrubs by herbivores. In 2 sequential trials, we examined the effect of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and number of shrub species offered on daily intake of Mediterranean shrubs by 12 sheep and 12 goats. The PEG (25 g) was fed to experimental animals with barley. In trial 1 (6 shrubs), goats ate more (P = 0.0008) daily total shrub biomass than did sheep (60.7 vs. 45.9 ± 2.6 g/kg of BW). There was a trend (P = 0.08) toward a positive PEG effect on total shrub intake, with PEG-supplemented animals consuming more total shrubs than controls (56.7 vs. 50.0 ± 2.6 g/kg of BW). Trial 2 (using 3 shrubs) was a continuation of trial 1, except that animals were given less barley and treatment animals were given more PEG (50 g). Both sheep and goats showed a numerical decrease in total shrub intake from trial 1 to trial 2. Sheep receiving PEG ate more (P = 0.002) total shrubs than did controls, but no PEG effect was found for goats. Thus, PEG had a greater influence on sheep than goats when only 3 shrubs were offered, a result that may be related to the fact that fewer shrubs with complementary secondary compounds were offered and that goats appear to have a greater ability to consume and detoxify secondary compounds from Mediterranean shrubs. Overall, as the number and diversity of shrubs offered increased, supplemental PEG had less effect on increasing intake for both goats and sheep.


Originally published by the American Society of Animal Science.

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