Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

A. D. Smith


A. D. Smith


John C. Malechek


J. J. Spillett


An increasing interest in fecal analysis as a method of determining diets of herbivores prompted research to determine if this method could be used successfully to determine diets of pronghorn antelope found in Utah's cold desert rangelands. In addition to fecal analysis, quantitative estimates of pronghorn diets were derived from rumen analysis and feeding site observations. Rumen samples were analyzed by three different methods : (1) microscopic, (2) gravimetric, and (3) point frame. In addition to field experiments, samples from a feeding trial with a diet of known composition were used to determine whether or not differential digestion of plant epidermis occurs.

Fourteen male pronghorn antelope were collected between July, 1970 and June 4, 1971 on the Desert Experimental Range near Milford, Utah. A fecal sample was taken from the intestine of each. In addition, fecal samples and estimates of vegetative composition were collected at 14 sites. These, plus eight rumen samples collected from hunter kills during August 1970, were used to compare methods of rurren analysis and fecal analysis with the other conventional techniques used in this study.

Of the methods used, the microscopic technique, as described in this study, provided the most accurate and efficient method of analyzing pronghorn rumen samples. fecal analysis results compared favorably to the other methods used. The known diet study indicated that differential digestion of epidermal fragments may occur under certain conditions.



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