Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 487–494 | Cite as

Effects of Bermudagrass hay and soybean hulls inclusion on performance of sheep fed cactus-based diets

  • A. O. A. Santos
  • Ângela M. V. Batista
  • Arif Mustafa
  • G. L. Amorim
  • A. Guim
  • A. C. Moraes
  • R. B. de Lucena
  • R. de Andrade


The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of replacing corn with soybean hulls (SH) or Bermudagrass tifton hay (TH) on performance of sheep fed cactus-based diets. Three ruminally fistulated sheep were used in a 3 × 3 Latin square experiment with 21-day periods. All diets contained 75% spineless cactus (dry matter basis, DM) and formulated to be isonitrogenous. Fiber source had no influence on nutrient intakes except for the intake of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) which was lower (p < 0.05) for animals fed corn relative to those fed SH or TH. Time expended in rumination and total chewing time were higher (p < 0.05) for animals fed TH than those fed SH or corn. In vivo nutrient digestibilities were similar for all dietary treatments and averaged 69.6%, 74.8%, 69.9%, and 61.8% for DM, organic matter, crude protein, and NDF, respectively. Feeding SH relative to TH and corn decreased ruminal pH (p < 0.05) and increased concentration of total volatile fatty acids (p < 0.05). However, ruminal NH3–N concentration was higher (p < 0.05) for animal fed TH than for those fed SH or corn. Abdominal distension and ruminal biofilm production were greater (p < 0.05) in animals fed corn or SH than in those fed TH. It was concluded that replacing corn with SH or TH up to 15% of the diet DM in a cactus-based diet had no effect on nutrient intakes or total tract nutrient utilization. Changes in ruminal fermentation parameters reflected differences in ruminal degradability between the two fiber sources. Bermudagrass tifton hay was more effective than SH in reducing the risk of bloat associated with feeding high levels of spineless cactus to ruminants.


Nutrient utilization Sheep Spineless cactus 



Dry matter


Neutral detergent fiber


Tifton hay


Soybean hulls


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. O. A. Santos
    • 1
  • Ângela M. V. Batista
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arif Mustafa
    • 3
  • G. L. Amorim
    • 1
  • A. Guim
    • 1
  • A. C. Moraes
    • 1
  • R. B. de Lucena
    • 1
  • R. de Andrade
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal Rural University of PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Bolsista do CNPqBrasiliaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Animal ScienceMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-De-BellevueCanada

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