Agriculture and Food Systems - Theses

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    A study of weight-loss and compensatory gain in sheep
    Winter, W. H ( 1971)
    Two experiments of similar nature were conducted. In the first experiment 49 Corriedale wethers at approximately 8 months of age were allocated to four experimental groups and, within groups, to various slaughter weights which were spaced at 5 kg intervals. Group I animals were fed ad libitum and slaughtered - over a body weight- range of 38 - 63 kg inclusive. Groups II and III animals were fed ad libitum until 48 kg body weight hereupon intake was restricted to achieve a body weight loss of 0.9 kg/week until body weights were reduced to 38.5 kg and 34.5 kg, respectively. Ad libitum feeding was then resumed and animals were slaughtered up to 63 kg body weight at the same weight intervals as in Group I. Group IV animals were fed ad libitum until 48 kg body weight and then, food was adjusted to maintain body weight at 48 kg. Four animals were slaughtered after 60 days and a further four after 120 days of maintenance of body weight. In the second experiment, 15 wethers of similar age, breed and nutritional history as those used in Experiment 1, were allocated to four slaughter groups in a treatment similar to that of Group III in Experiment 1. Four animals were slaughtered at 33 kg body weight at the beginning of the first period of ad libitum feeding; three animals slaughtered at 45.5 kg at the end of the first period of ad libitum feeding; three animals slaughtered at 33.5 kg at the end of the weight loss phase; and five animals slaughtered at 46.5 kg at the end of the second period of ad libitum feeding. The compensatory growth rates of animals in Groups II and III were greater than those of Group I in each of the successive 5.5 kg increments in body weight. By maintaining higher growth rates over the entire weight range, the largest animals of Groups I I and III were slaughtered at a similar age to those, of Group I. Similarly, in Experiment 2, the compensatory growth rates (Group VI) were greater than continuous growth rates (Group V) over the body weight range used in this experiment. The data was transformed to logarithms in order to use Huxley's (1932) allometric growth equation in the linear form for an analysis of covariance. During continuous growth (Groups I and V), the empty body weight (EBW) increased as a proportion of full body weight (FEW) whilst during the compensatory growth which followed weight loss (Groups II, III and VI) the proportion of EBW remained constant. At the same FEW the EBW of Groups I I and III was less than that of Group I. Similarly, the EBW of animals maintained at a constant body weight (Group IV) was less, at the same FBW, than that of Group I. Carcass weight (CW) increased as a proportion of EBW as EBW increased in Groups I and V but the proportion remained constant in Groups II, III and VI. At the geometric mean FEW, treatment did not affect CW. However, the apparent dressing percentage (CW / FBW x 100) was 2% less during compensatory growth compared with that during continuous growth. The carcass length of animals in Groups II, III and IV was greater than that of animals in Group I.
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    The parotid salivary secretion of sheep
    Wilson, A. D (1938-) ( 1963)
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    Choosing sheep for lifetime profitability
    Gillies, Robert Ian ( 2004)
    This project investigated the selection of wool sheep for lifetime profitability by measuring the lifetime productive phenotypes of breeding ewes, their lambs and the rams to which the ewes were mated, on a commercial farm in East Gippsland. The measurements were recorded from 1992 to 2002. The seasons varied during this time, including a severe drought from 1996 to 1998. The results clearly demonstrate that the environment, its resources and demands, limit the full phenotypic expression of the genotype of the sheep. This expression varies over the lifetime of the animal. The results identify the sheep that were most suited to their environment. Phenotype interaction: It was found that enhancement of any single profitable phenotypic character resulted in changes to all other profitable phenotypic characters, usually in a negative direction. These phenotypic interactions frequently show curvilinearity and nonlinear relationships, demonstrating that to select on a linear model is frequently not appropriate for profit indicators or biological reality. Measurement of ewe body weight and the weight gain ratio of lambs A method is described for measuring the yearly and lifetime body weights of sheep from which the changing wool weights and weight due to pregnancy were removed. Birth weight, wool weight and weight gain of the suckling lamb were then expressed as a percentage of the body weight of the ewe. This resulted in a clearer understanding of how the ewe allocates metabolic resources. It also demonstrated that too high a bodyweight was itself an excessive user of resources. When the average daily weight gain of the lamb from birth to weaning was expressed as a percentage of the weight of the mother the results provided an early prediction of lifetime profitability of the lamb and indirectly of the mother. This percentage had a strong positive relation to the birth weight, weaning weight, greasy fleece weight of the lamb and to the survival rate of the progeny and the test ewes during the drought. However prediction of the fibre diameter required an independent measurement. Measuring the value of a sheep's wool: A method is described for assessing the value of wool. This eliminates the influence of monetary inflation and helps the farmer make a more accurate judgement of the wool value in the selection of his sheep. Auction prices from all districts of Victoria based on the 1987-1997 auction prices of wool were converted into a Price fibre-diameter ratio. This ratio was used to determine a commercial wool value (Ewe wool score) for each test ewe. For each of the test ewe's male and female progeny, the same ratio was used to obtain a wool score (up to two years of age). These progeny values of all her lambs were added to provide a Progeny wool score for each test ewe. A Combined wool score combined both the ewe's own woolscore and the woolscore of her progeny. The top ten test ewes were identified for each category then compared to the subjective assessments of a sheep classer, the farm manager and the wool classer. Sheep that had high Combined wool scores and were therefore the most profitable over two generations had different phenotypes from those with high individual wool scores. It should be noted that while wethers might be chosen for wool score only, ewes should be chosen for wool score and the ability to produce profitable progeny. This thesis has highlighted the fact that selection for lifetime profitability will differ for ewes and for wethers. Using the Statistica 4.1 (1994) for McIntosh program stepwise multiple regressions were carried out on the test ewes for Ewe wool score, Progeny wool score and Combined wool score. The factors with significant influence (p-level < .05) on each of the three wool scores were identified. For the Ewe wool score, the factors in order of importance are, average fibre diameter (negative), greasy fleece weight, average visual assessment of the fleece and lambs alive December 1996 (negative). Those four factors "explain" 42% of the sums of squares in the Ewe wool score. For the Progeny wool score, the factors in order of importance are, lambs alive in December 1996, which was the end of the recording of the test ewes, and the average fibre diameter (negative). These two factors "explain" 64% of sums of squares in the Progeny wool score. In the Combined wool score, the factors in order of importance are, lambs alive in December 1996, average fibre diameter 1992-6 (negative) and average greasy fleece weight 1992-6 (negative). These three factors "explain" 60% of the sums of squares in the Combined wool score. The negative partial regression for fibre diameter is explained by the position of the average fibre diameter on the Price-fibre diameter curve (finer fibres bring higher prices). The negative partial regression of the Combined wool score on greasy fleece weight suggests that there is competition between resources required for producing wool and for successful reproduction. Heritability estimates: Heritability estimates were calculated from intra-sire regressions of progeny on dams. This was done for body weight, greasy fleece weight, fibre diameter and the visual assessment of the fleece at specific ages over the years for which paired data for the test ewes and their progeny were available. Such estimates were available for hoggets and 2,3,4 and five-year olds of both the dams and progeny, with a varying numbers of pairs at different ages. The results varied between ages and between the sexes of the progeny. There were more data available (pairs of dams and progeny) from the middle age-years. 'When the male and female progeny were considered together, the corrected body weight in years two and four gave highly significant results of 0.45 and 0.44 respectively. Year three had significant results of 0.27. Years one and five were not significantly different from zero. Fibre diameter had highly significant results of 0.89 in year one and significant results of 0.28 in year two and 0.32 in year three. Years four and five were not significant. Greasy fleece weight had significant results of 0.70 in year one. Other years were less than 0.30 and were not significant. Fleece visual assessment had highly significant results of 0.35 in year three; the other years were not significant. One wool classer classified all the fleeces subjectively at shearing over an eight-year period giving a yearly visual score to each fleece. He was unaware of the identity of the fleeces. The results showed a high degree of consistency. The above results shows that visual scores can be heritable. Fibre diameter, greasy fleece weight and their interaction: Fibre diameter was examined for lifetime variation in individual sheep and groups of sheep selected on micron. Lifetime group measurement of fibre diameter was highly predictable. This allows a fanner to get a reasonable lifetime group fibre diameter result from one year of measurement. Lifetime measurements of fibre diameter for individuals were less predictable. Fibre diameter was also examined for the effect of resources and their availability, heritability, ageing, lambing and lactation, and the health of the sheep. The two-generation realized heritability of fibre diameter for the test ewes in 1995 and the one-year old progeny in 1993 to 1995 was 0.50. Greasy fleece weight was examined for lifetime variation, in individual and group measurements, for the effect of the availability of resources, the variations of ageing and the health of the sheep. Greasy fleece weight had lower heritability estimates at hogget age than did fibre diameter. Group measurements of greasy fleece weights had more lifetime variation than did fibre diameter. Therefore a single greasy fleece group measurement would not be as reliable an indicator for lifetime results as a single measure of fibre diameter. Using 1992-6 average values, the fleeces of the Tubbut flock were examined for the relationship of the fibre diameters to greasy fleece weights, from the finest to the broadest fibre diameters. This relationship was not linear. From 25-21 microns the decrease of the greasy fleece weight for each decrease of one micron was 5.7%, from 21-18 microns the result was 9.6 %, from 17-16 microns the result was 11.4%. The limitation of the environment: The data presented in this thesis clearly demonstrate, that with limited resources available from an environment, there is an overriding and fundamental response within animals to allocate those resources to maximize their survival and that of their progeny. Any artificial selection must be carried out with the knowledge, that over time, the animals will attempt to return to the allocation of resources that maintains the best chance of survival for themselves and their progeny. Within this thesis there are many examples where, if sheep had been artificially selected for one character this would have altered all or most of the other characters usually in a negative direction. It has been shown that high artificial selection tends to have that selection reduced in value over the animal's lifetime. Important principles: Results in this thesis highlight that in selecting for lifetime profitability breeders should note that 1) The environment, its resources and demands, limit the full expression of the genotype of the sheep. The effect varies over the lifetime of the animal. 2) In the selection of animals for particular traits, due regard must be given to the effects that the selection will have on the whole of the phenotype. 3) Increased profitability resulting from the selection of one trait may result in the overall loss of profitability from the decrease in other profitable traits. 4) Where research is carried out on one particular trait to either enhance or decrease that trait, the research needs to demonstrate the effect of that selection on the whole animal over its lifetime. 5) Sheep need to be selected for an increase in lifetime profitability in their own commercial environment. Taking note of these principles will ensure true progress is made in phenotypes and genotypes suitable for any particular environment. It will also produce greater profits for Australian farmers.
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    Attributes of pasture influencing the diet of grazing sheep
    Ciavarella, Tony Andrew ( 2002)
    This thesis investigated how the composition, productivity and nutritive quality of Phalaris aquatica L. (phalaris) and Trifoliun: subterranean L. (subterranean clover) pasture affected diet selection and intake by sheep in temperate Australia. Field experiments were conducted at the Ginninderra Experiment Station, Canberra, (35 17' S, 149 08' E) and glasshouse experiments at the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, Black Mountain Laboratories, Canberra, Australia. The effects of different defoliation treatments on the ability of grass and subterranean clover to compete for light were studied in a glasshouse experiment. Regular patterns of phalaris and subterranean clover were planted on a 25 mm grid to create swards with 0% clover, 25% clover, 50% clover, 75% clover and 100% clover by plant number. Swards were either defoliated regularly by clipping to 2, 4, 9 or 15 cm tall or not defoliated and harvested when they reached 2, 4, 9 or 15 cm tall. The distribution of leaf area index within the swards was measured and related to light interception and photosynthesis. Light infiltrated further into the canopy of unclipped swards than clipped swards. Regular clipping created a dense layer of planophile leaves at the top of the canopy, which intercepted most of the incident light, leaving the lower canopy in darkness. Consequently, the lower canopy contributed less to photosynthesis in clipped swards than in unclipped ones. Grass leaves were displayed more prostrate when clipped regularly such that the structure and light interception of grass was similar to clover. In the absence of defoliation, grass leaves were taller than clover, but their erect habit allowed infiltration of light to clover laminae. The relationships between herbage mass, botanical composition, intake and dietary selection by sheep grazing phalaris-subterranean clover pastures were investigated during spring. A range in pasture height (1.2 to 10.2 cm) caused a similar range in herbage mass (370 to 3030 kg DM/ha) and herbage accumulation (-18 to 52 kg/ha/day). A pasture 5 to 6 cm tall, with a leaf area index of 2.0 and an available yield of 1700 kg DM/ha was most productive. The estimated daily pasture intake by sheep ranged from 384 to 1077 g OM. On the shortest pastures, intake was limited by available yield. Intakes increased little after available pasture yield reached 1500kg DM/ha or a pasture height of 5 to 6 cm, but were restricted at pasture heights of 2-3cm or less. There was no evidence for selection in favour of either clover or phalaris, and they were consumed in the same proportion they were present in the pasture. The effect of recent diet on the selection and intake of diet by sheep grazing phalarisclover pastures was investigated. Sheep grazed phalaris, clover or phalaris-clover pasture prior to movement to either a phalaris- or clover-dominant mixture of the two species. The results were complicated by the presence of Vulpia species in the pastures. Where one species dominated the pasture, the diet was predominantly that species. Cases where pasture was a more even mixture of species could not be interpreted successfully, because the alkane concentrations of the pasture species (from which diet composition estimates were made) did not allow the pasture species in the diet to be discriminated with confidence. The daily intake of pasture was affected by previous diet, with animals tending to consume more when moved to a pasture similar to the one they were previously grazing. In an experiment on established phalaris pasture, the diurnal fluctuation in the concentration of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) was measured during spring. WSC increased significantly (P = 0.009) from 103 mg/g DM at 0715 hours to 160 mg/g DM at 1300 hours, and did not change further during the next two hours. The concentrations of glucose (17 mg/g DM), fructose (20 mg/g DM), fructan (14 mg/g DM) and "other carbohydrate" (predominantly the carbohydrate moiety of glycosides; 43 mg/g DM) remained relatively constant throughout the daylight period. The increase in concentration of sucrose (33 mg/g DM) was the most significant influence on the increase in WSC (57 mg/g DM). Shading to exclude light prevented the increase in WSC concentration during the day. In a subsequent experiment, a shading treatment was used to create pasture with lower WSC concentration (62 mg/g DM) than an unshaded control (126 mg/g DM). The concentration of the component carbohydrates (i.e. glucose, fructose, sucrose, fructan, "other carbohydrate" and starch) were significantly lower in shaded compared to unshaded pasture. Sheep given free choice between shaded and unshaded pasture exhibited a preference for unshaded pasture over shaded pasture and, on average, 72% of the DM in their diet was unshaded pasture. Whilst no sheep showed preference for the shaded pasture, the proportion of unshaded pasture in their diets varied between 52% and 87% (DM basis). The results are discussed in terms of their implications for grazing management and the development of strategies to improve pasture utilisation and nutritive quality. The role of WSC in diet selection and its importance as a determinant of forage nutritive quality are discussed. The potential benefits of increasing the concentration of WSC in forages by altering agronomic practices or selectively breeding for WSC are discussed.
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    Responses of young sheep to supplements when fed low quality roughages
    Rafiq, Mohammed ( 1999)
    The morphological components of which cereal straw is composed vary in composition and nutritive value. In a survey of relevant literature, stem materials (ST) are usually found to be consumed by ruminant animals at a slower rate than leaf material (LF) from the same crop residues when these are fed alone as separated fractions. This is attributed to the higher content of cell wall constituents (CWCs) and often lower content of N of ST. Because ST and LF can vary in proportions in the roughage fed as a basal feed, the response of animals to supplements might also be expected to be variable particularly when the basal feed is offered in excess that permits selection. In particular the response to supplemental N sources varying in ruminai degradability may vary. The objective of this thesis program was to investigate the interactions between the basal roughage and supplement measured as effects on digestion and LW responses of young sheep. The overall hypothesis was that across diets made up of different proportions of LF and ST fractions of cereal straw, the response to N supplements is dependent on CWCs concentration. The program was completed through a series of experiments conducted at the Mt Derrimut Field Satation of the University of Melbourne. In all experiments the animals were fed on a basal feed of LF or ST fractions of barley straw, with supplements including (a) Bar+USS, barley grain (Bar) fortified with urea solution prepared at a ratio of 5:1 (urea plus Na,SO4). (b) USS, urea solution alone added to the basal roughage and (c) FM, fishmeal. With each basal feed one group of lambs did not receive any supplement and served as a control group (CONT). Experiment 1 (Chapter 3) was conducted to evaluate chemical and nutritional characteristics of straw fractions of Parwon cultivar barley. Straw was separated into 4 fractions - stem (ST), leaf blade (LB), leaf sheath (LS) and broken fractions plus weeds (OT). The separated fractions were analysed chemically ( van Soest, 1974) and in vitro digestibility (Tilley and Terry 1964 ) determined. ST was the largest fraction and contained a significantly higher concentration of neutral detergent fibre (NDF; p<0.01) than LB, LS and OT (83.1, 78.6, 76.8,and 71.5 g/100g respectively). ST contained less hemicellulose (HC) than LB but more than LS and OT (37.5, 39.6, 36.3, and 35.7 respectively). N content was lower in ST than in LB, LS and OT fractions (0.4, 0.9, 0.6, and 0.7 respectively). Digestibility in vitro was significantly lower (P<0.001) for ST than for other fractions (38.5, 72.7, 60.1, and 63.0 respectively) while energy required for grinding (Chenost 1966) was much higher (P<0.001) for ST than for other fractions (121, 54.6, 64.2, 56.6 respectivly). In Experiment 2 (Chapter 4) ST and LF fractions of the same Parwon barley straw were fed as the basal feed to lambs and DM intake of ST was 15% lower than for LF (403 vs 473 g/d). When LF feed was supplemented with USS and FM, DM intake was greater by 28% and 25% respectively, while supplementation with Bar+USS resulted in 10% lower LF intake. In contrast, with animals fed ST as the basal roughage, only FM led to an increase in DM intake of only 10%. Supplementation with Bar+US and USS and FM improved overall digestibility, estimated metabolisable energy intake and N intake. Low N intakes on the basal roughages supported low ruminai ammonia-N concentrations (mg/1) immediately before feeding (ST, 20.4 ; LF 35.8), but these were improved where supplements had been fed with each of ST Bar+USS, 263.7; USS, 186.7; and FM, 151) and LF (Bar+USS, 219.5; USS, 62.5; and FM, 150). Six hours after feeding, ammonia-N concentrations (mg/l)were higher for ST (99) still low for LF(35) when fed alone, reduced below the prefeeding levels by supplements of Bar+USS (ST,167; LF 173) but raised by USS (ST, 201; LF 148) and FM (ST, 114; LF, 192). The concentrations of total volatile fatty acids (VFA) in rumen fluid (mMoUl) were not significantly different for ST and LF before feeding except where FM was the supplement, or six hours after feeding except where Bar+USS or USS were fed with LF (before feeding: ST, 51; Bar+USS, 55.7; USS,46.5; FM, 56 ; LF, 42.6; Bar+USS, 53; USS, 55.5; FM, 63.6; 6h after feeding ST, 55.5; Bar+USS, 70.2; USS, 62.1; FM, 50.4 ; LF, 55.7; Bar+USS, 69.5; USS, 60.9; FM, 60.9). Lambs on ST and LF alone lost weight (ST, -105; LF -98 g/d ). Rate of liveweight loss was less when Bar+USS (ST, -32.3; LF -2.4g/d) and USS (ST, -79.8; LF -31.2 g/d) supplements were fed, while FM promoted LW gain (ST, 37.5; LF, 72.4g/d). N retention data was consistent with these LW gains, except where Bar+USS was the supplement, in which case the animals were in positive N balance though losing weight. Wool growth was significantly improved (P<0.001) only by FM on both ST (+47%) and LF (+57%) basal roughages. In Experiments 3 and 4 (Chapter . 5 and 6) the objective was to investigate the factors responsible for low feed intake and poor performance of lambs fed ST compred to those on LF. The DMI (g/d) of lambs fed ST and LF were similar to those achieved in experiment 2; and were significantly greater for LF (P<0.001). Likewise supplements of Bar+USS, USS and FM had similar effects to those reported for experiment 2_ Changes in DMI, MEI ruminai environment before feeding or 6 and:12 hours after feeding were consistent with those recorded during experiment 2. However concentration of total VFA was significantly elevated at 12 hours after feeding. Differences in ruminal environment were evident in terms of VFA concentrations and the distribution of rumen digesta particulate material in different size fractions; both variables were affected both by the basal diet and the supplement. For LF, the proportions of particles >2mm and of very fine particles (0.125 mm) were greater and for particles between 0.5 and 1 mm less those for ST in all cases. Further, the proportion of particles >2mm was less where FM was fed than for any other feeding regime. The mean retention times of rumen fluid, measured from CoEDTA dilution rate, and calculated for rumen particulate material was longer (24%, P<0.01) for ST than for LF but there was no significant effect of supplement on this (Experiment 4, Chapter 6). The mean percentage of very fine particles in the faeces of lambs fed on LF was higher than for lambs fed ST alone or with supplements. Rate of ruminai degradation of OM of ST and LF as measured by nylon bag technique ( Experiment 3, Chapter 5) was similar at 12 and 24 hours but greater for LF than for ST at 48 and 96 hours of incubation. Bar (cracked whole grain) was degraded more rapidly and extensiveley than FM; in LF fed sheep this difference was more marked. Rate of degradation of acid detergent fibre (ADF) was influenced by the kind of supplement and was greatest in lambs given FM , and least in lambs given ST with no supplement. Only the FM supplement resulted in LW gains, though rates of LW loss were least and LW gains with FM were greatest with LF as the basal roughage. The responses are interpreted as flowing from the greater proportion of ADF and lignin in the CWCs content and the greater digestibility of ADF in the LF fraction. The ST feed fraction with higher concentrations of cell wall constituents (CWCs) as NDF was eaten at a slower rate (Experiment 5, Chapter 7) and digesta particulate material and, in these experiments, the fluid phase are retained longer in the rumen. LF showed not only an advantage over ST in these respects but also in terms of a number of important digestion parameters supported a greater response to supplements, particularly N supplements of low degradability. Thus FM is these experiments interacted with the roughage component of the diet. It provided more consistent ruminai ammonia concentrations supporting a better environment for microbial activity and growth. Microbial protein together with undegraded dietary protein together provide a balance of nutrients that allows LW gains on otherwise submaintenance basal feeds. The greater enhancement of performance with LF compared to ST and the particle size measurements suggest that greater fragmentability of LF may be a major contributor . In terms of technical improvement of livestock feeding systems, providing the animal with opportunity for selection of more leaf and less stem may improve the likelihood of responses to supplements but this was not demonstrated in Experiment 5. FM was used as the experimental supplement to provide slowly degraded and undegraded dietary protein of high biological value to the animal. FM is expensive and other crop byproducts and local feed materials with properties of slow degradability of protein and good amino acid balance need to be identified. An alternative strategy would be to provide a maximum opportunity for the selection of most digestible parts. If refusals are then collected, quality could be further improved with alkali treatment and necessary supplementation. This would provide a strategy for the use of morphological fractions which could be an economical approach for the efficient utilization of roughages.
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    Variability in the intake of supplements by grazing sheep
    Lobato, Jose Fernando Piva ( 1979)
    Although the practice of feeding supplements to grazing animals is widespread through the world, its efficiency still deserves further study. Factors associated with the supplements themselves, the animals being fed, the environment, and the grazing diet being supplemented together constitute a set of variables which affects not only acceptance and intake, but also the nutritional and economic efficiencies of supplementary feeding. This study is concerned with the feeding of supplements to grazing sheep under temperate climatic conditions. Oat grain, hay and molasses-urea blocks (Barastoc, KMM Pty. Ltd., Melbourne) were used initially, but subsequent experiments were confined to the utilization of molasses-urea blocks. Only recently have researchers emphasized the importance of variability in supplement intake between individuals within a herd or flock and estimates of intake, with large ranges between animals, have now appeared in the literature. Langlands and Bowles (1976) considered that such wide variabilities in intake, limit the effectiveness of all forms of supplementation. However, little is known about the factors affecting variability in a group situation and few attempts have been made to identify the possible factors inducing such wide ranges of intakes in grazing animals. Arnold and Bush (1968) identified three types. of sheep: "shy-feeders", periodic non-feeders, and over indulgers". In some situations social dominance has been observed to affect responses to supplements (Franklin and Sutton, 1952; Wagnon, 1965; Squires and Daws, 1975) , and Arnold and taller (1974) correlated the intake of supplements with body weights of sheep. Chapter 1 of this thesis reviews the direct and indirect effects on animal performance of the main factors related to the feeding of supplements. Chapter 2 presents estimations of intake of three supplements, oats, hay, molasses-urea block, made with sheep in small paddocks. Results of behavioural observations and body measurements of the sheep are presented and discussed separately in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 provides an assessment of the acceptability of molasses-urea blocks by seven different flocks of grazing sheep on five private properties. The effects of confining sheep in yards on their acceptance of the blocks are also reported. Few studies have sought to determine whether management stratagems may improve the rate of adaptation of sheep to molasses-urea blocks and induce more uniform intakes between animals. Pilot trials described in Chapter 5 were conducted to identify possible management procedures that may be suitable for these purposes. Four such procedures were sufficiently encouraging to justify testing in a replicated experiment, which is described in Chapter 6. These treatments were imposed on sheep confined in yards and fed hay at a submaintenance levels. The investigations described in Chapter 7 utilised a different approach and are concerned with the behavioural aspects of learning, a topic which has been intensively studied with laboratory animals but only rarely with farm animals. The effects of offering molasses-urea blocks to lambs in the pre-weaning period are assessed in terms of their acceptance of blocks in later life. Inevitably only a few experimental possibilities and combinations have been assessed in the work reported in this thesis. Major attention was directed towards molasses-urea blocks because they induced wider variability in the responses by sheep than did hay or grain supplements . The blocks used were those manufactured by KMM Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, had a hard texture for protection against wet weather conditions and required animals to lick them rather than chew them. Variations in block formulation were not studied in the work described in this thesis and it remains possible that other types of block may have produced different results.
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    Effects of growth patterns on body composition and compensatory growth in sheep
    Hogg, Barry William ( 1977)
    The literature related to compensatory growth in ruminants, with particular reference to sheep, has been reviewed. An experiment was conducted which examined the effects of planned BW losses on growth rate, body composition, wool growth and nitrogen and energy utilisation of sheep when ad libitum feeding was resumed. Sheep were fed a pelleted ration throughout the experiment, and BW loss induced by reducing feed intake. Following developmental growth from 30 to 37.8 kg, Groups B and C lost 21% BW at 122 and 63 gd-1, respectively to reach 30.2 kg BW. Following developmental growth from 30 to 46.7 kg (Groups D and E), Group D lost 34% BW at 125 gd-1 to reach 30.8.kg BW, while Group E lost 23% BW at 157 gd-1 to reach 35.0 kg. Group A was a control group fed ad libitum throughout the experiment. When ad libitum feeding was resumed compensatory growth occurred in treatment groups for up to 10 kg recovery of BW. Group D showed the most persistent increases in growth rate compared with that of control sheep, however, above 50 kg BW there were no significant differences between groups in growth rate. Weight loss did not produce a reversal of the compositional changes which occurred with increasing BW during developmental growth, in the whole body, carcass or offal. However, differences in composition between groups at the end of weight loss were not significant. During compensatory growth there were few differences between groups in the relative growth rates of protein, fat, ash or water in the whole body, carcass or offal. There were some differences between groups in weights of components at specific BW, carcass weight (CW) and offal weight WW), most notably fat and ash. However, these differences appeared to be transitory, and reflected the composition of that portion of the animal at the start of realimentation, rather than an effect of weight loss which was maintained during compensatory growth. The body, carcass and offal composition of sheep appeared to be resilient to periods of nutritional stress, and tended to return to the "normal" composition expected at that weight. The effects of up to 18 weeks severe undernutrition, resulting in rapid BW loss, were able to be overcome during compensatory growth when feed was offered ad libitum. Compared with developmental growth, nitrogen retention increased during compensatory growth. However, the efficiency of ME utilization was not different during these two periods of growth, although DE requirements for maintenance were lower during compensatory growth, compared with developmental growth. Dry matter intakes (DMI) of treatment groups required up to 13 weeks to return to the DMI of sheep during developmental growth, once ad libitum feeding was resumed. Over their respective growth paths Groups A, B, C, D and E required the same amount of feed to reach 50 kg BW. Wool growth rate (WGR) responded more slowly than BW to changes in level of nutrition, both during weight loss and during compensatory growth. There was a lag phase of at least 30 days. WGR during compensatory growth was reduced and required up to 14 weeks to return to developmental WGR after ad libitum feeding was resumed. Total body water (TBW), estimated from tritiated water (TOH) space in sheep undergoing compensatory growth, was overestimated by at least 20%. TOH space was measured without imposing a period of prior starvation on the sheep, and this may have contributed to the large overestimate. Multiple regression equations including TOH space, BW and a maturity factor (M), were able to explain up to 95% of the variation in chemical composition of the body, but residual standard errors were still high.