Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1169–1174 | Cite as

Rumen development and growth of Balouchi lambs offered alfalfa hay pre- and post-weaning

  • Mohammad Ali Norouzian
  • Reza Valizadeh
  • Payam Vahmani
Original Research


The consumption of solid feed is essential for successful transition from a pre-ruminant to a functional digestive tract. Lambs fed starter rations containing highly fermentable carbohydrates often experience dramatic changes in concentrations of rumen and blood metabolites. The optimal amount of roughage required in the diet of pre-ruminant animals is still unclear. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of feeding alfalfa hay on performance and rumen development in young Balouchi lambs. In a completely randomized design, 30 lambs were fed one of three experimental diets consisting of a control, without alfalfa hay (C), a diet containing 7.5% alfalfa hay (A1), and a diet containing 15% alfalfa hay (A2). Lambs fed A1 and A2 diets had lower dry matter intake during the pre-weaning period (P < 0.01) and overall (P = 0.02), but feed conversion ratio and average daily gain were not affected by feeding alfalfa hay. Concentration of beta-hydroxybutyric acid was higher in C compared with the A1 and A2 groups (P < 0.01). Concentrations of glucose and non-esterified fatty acids did not differ among the groups of animals. Feeding alfalfa hay reduced thickness of the rumen epithelial keratinized layer (P = 0.04) and increased thickness of muscular layer (P = 0.05). We concluded that including 15% alfalfa hay in the starter diet could reduce thickness of the keratinization layer and increase muscularity of rumen wall without adverse effects on growth and performance of newborn lambs.


Rumen development Alfalfa hay Balouchi lamb 



Beta-hydroxybutyric acid


Non-esterified fatty acids


Volatile fatty acids


Water-holding capacity


Penn state particle separator


Physical effective factor


Physical effective neutral detergent fiber


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Ali Norouzian
    • 1
  • Reza Valizadeh
    • 2
  • Payam Vahmani
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Animal Science, College of AboureihanUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Animal ScienceFerdowsi University of MashhadMashhadIran
  3. 3.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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