Preference for Flavored Wheat Straw by Lambs Conditioned with Intraruminal Infusions of Starch Administered at Different Times After Straw Ingestion
Journal of Animal Science
We hypothesized that the development and extinction of preferences for flavored foods paired with infusions of starch depends on the delay between food ingestion and starch administration and on the frequency of starch administration. To test this hypothesis, we divided 24 lambs into three groups of 8 lambs/group. On even days, half of the lambs were offered chopped wheat straw flavored with a distinctive flavor, whereas the other half received straw with a different flavor. Starch (12% of the daily DE required by the lambs) was infused into the rumen immediately after lambs began to eat straw in Group 1 (150 g starch), immediately after lambs began to eat straw (75 g) and 30 min later (75 g) in Group 2, and when straw refusals were collected 1 h after lambs began to eat straw in Group 3 (150 g). On odd days, the flavors were switched and infusions of starch were replaced with water. After 8 d of conditioning, starch infusions were suspended, and lambs were offered a choice of wheat straw with the two distinctive flavors. All lambs acquired strong preferences for flavored straw paired with starch (P < .001), but the delay between straw ingestion and starch infusion affected preferences (P < .05). Lambs that received starch 1 h after beginning to eat straw (Group 3) had lower preferences than lambs that received starch immediately after beginning to eat straw (Groups 1 and 2). Lambs that received two starch infusions (Group 2) did not show higher preferences for flavored straw than lambs that received only one starch infusion immediately after beginning to eat (Group 1). Lambs in our study retained preferences for at least 17 d when eating straw was no longer reinforced with starch (P < .001). However, preferences were less persistent for lambs that received starch immediately after beginning to eat straw (Group 1) than for lambs that received starch in two pulses (Group 2) or lambs that received starch 1 h after beginning to eat straw (Group 3). Collectively, our results support the hypothesis that the delay between food ingestion and starch administration affects food preferences of lambs. These findings suggest that manipulating the chemical characteristics of foods, which affects the kinetics of forage degradation in the rumen, can increase food preferences in ruminants.
Villalba, J. J.; Provenza, F. D.; Rogosic, 1999. Preference for flavored wheat straw by lambs conditioned with intraruminal infusions of starch administered at different times after straw ingestion. Journal of Animal Science 77(12): 3185-3190.