Food Preferences in Lambs After Exposure to Flavors in Solid Foods

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Applied Animal Behaviour Science

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The aim of this study was to determine whether experience with onion- or garlic-flavored food early in life affected subsequent intake of foods with those flavors. From 30 to 110 days of age, lambs were exposed to either an onion- or a garlic-flavored ration of ground alfalfa and rolled barley. Lambs were tested using both two-choice and single-choice tests. The two-choice tests were between: (1) onion- and garlic-flavored rations; (2) onion-flavored and unflavored rations; (3) garlic-flavored and unflavored rations. In the single-choice tests, acceptance of food was tested with each flavor at the concentration (2%) received during exposure and with 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25% of each flavor. When offered a choice between onion- and garlic-flavored food, lambs exposed to garlic ate more (P < 0.05) garlic-flavored food, while lambs exposed to onion ate more (P < 0.05) onion-flavored food. When offered a choice between flavored and unflavored foods, lambs ate more unflavored than flavored foods; however, lambs exposed to onion ate relatively more (P < 0.05) onion-flavored food than did lambs exposed to garlic in these tests. Exposure to garlic did not increase (P > 0.05) intake of garlic-flavored food when offered with unflavored food. In the single-choice tests, early experience with flavors did not (P > 0.05) increase intake of flavors at the 2% concentration. Lambs exposed to onion, however, ingested more (P < 0.05) onion-flavored food at higher concentrations than did lambs exposed to garlic. Lambs exposed to garlic did not (P > 0.05) ingest more food with higher concentrations of garlic than did lambs exposed to onion. Despite differences between groups of lambs shortly after exposure to flavors (1988), there were no differences in intake of flavored foods 9 months later (1989).

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