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Quantification of intake and diet selection of ruminants grazing heterogeneous pastures using compound specific stable isotopes

Quantification of intake and diet selection of ruminants grazing heterogeneous pastures using compound specific stable isotopes

Closed for proposals

Project Type

Project Code

D31029

CRP

2141

Approved Date

18 February 2016

Status

Start Date

11 July 2016

Expected End Date

10 July 2021

Participating Countries

Description

Optimization of the utilisation of grassland/ranch-land by livestock growers would benefit many millions of farmers in the World since 40.5 percent of the terrestrial area excluding Greenland and Antarctica Grasslands are covered by grasslands, which are important as feed source for livestock. The project aims to develop a practical method to predict pasture intake of ruminants grazing heterogeneous pastures and rangeland using stable isotopes to provide tools for better grassland management that enhance animal productivity and reduces impact on environment due to overgrazing, and to allow the design of effective feed supplementation strategies at farm level to optimize animal production.  Three major laboratory activities are planned: a) the analysis of concentrations and stable carbon isotope composition (delta13C values vs. VPDB - Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite) of n-alkanes in the plant and faecal samples to predict dry matter (DM) intake and its plant proportions; b) The use of conventional chemical analysis of plants to determine their nutritional value, and c) The development of the near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) predictive equations of DM intake and the plant profile of that intake to facilitate the design of diets and supplements required to cover the nutritional needs of animals for getting the expected production levels. The combination of the three technologies applied to plant and faecal samples obtained in a common research protocol used by all participating countries will allow to reach the scientific objectives of the CRP. The project will run for five years and will involve 7 Research Contract holders from developing countries, three technical contracts and four Agreement holders from laboratories engaged in the use of stable isotopes and advanced techniques for measuring nutritional feed value of plants. The estimated budget is €465,000. A new title is suggested: Quantification of intake and diet selection of ruminants grazing heterogeneous pasture using compound specific stable isotopes.

Objectives

To develop a practical method to predict pasture intake of ruminants grazing heterogeneous pastures/rangeland using stable isotopes to allow farm level design of effective feed supplementation strategies to optimize animal production.

Specific objectives

To create practical near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) based prediction equations of total pasture dry matter (DM) intake, as well as its proportion of individual pasture species, based upon analysis of individual animal faecal composite samples.

To evaluate impacts on animal performance and efficiency of potential feed supplementation strategies using existing animal metabolic models based upon predicted pasture DM intakes.

To networking among animal scientists from developed and developing countries.

To quantify intake and diet selection of cattle grazing heterogeneous pasture/rangeland using compound specific stable isotopes of long chain n-alkanes.

To strengthen research capacity among animal scientists in developing countries.