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South African Journal of Animal Science

Print version ISSN 0375-1589

Abstract

NOUALA, F.S.; MUETZEL, S.; HOFFMANN, E.  and  BECKER, K.. Comparative digestive ability and rumen microbial community of N'Dama and N'Dama x Jersey cattle fed different diets. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2009, vol.39, n.3, pp. 243-251. ISSN 0375-1589.

Rumen fluid collected from three rumen fistulated N'Dama and three crossbred animals fed three different diets at medium supplementation level, was used to compare the plant cell wall degrading community of the two breeds of cattle. In vivo digestibility was also examined and compared using 12 animals (six of each breed) fed the same diets. The microbial community of the rumen was analyzed by 16S rRNA hybridisation, using phylogenetic probes of different levels: a universal probe, domain-specific probes for Bacteria, Eukarya and Archaea, and probes targeting cellulolytic organisms: Chytridiomycetes, Fibrobacter spp., Ruminococcus albus and Ruminococcus flavefaciens. In vivo, organic matter (OM) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) digestibility were significantly higher in N'Dama compared to crossbred animals when they were fed either baby corn stover and concentrate, or groundnut hay and moringa. In contrast, when the animals were fed groundnut hay and concentrate there was no difference in OM and NDF digestibility between the two breeds. Results of the microbial community analysis showed that RNA concentration of total Bacteria and Archaea was not affected by the breeds of animal, but were significantly affected by diet. The eukaryotic RNA concentration was higher in crossbred animals compared to the N'Dama and was not affected by the diet. Fibrobacter and R. flavefaciens RNA concentrations (µg/mL) were significantly dependent on diet and breed. Ruminococcus albus and Chytridiomycetes RNA concentrations were neither affected by the breed, nor by the diet of the animals. This suggested that the differences between breeds observed in digestibility could be partially explained by the composition of the cell wall degrading community.

Keywords : In vivo digestibility; microbial community; ribosomal RNA probes; N'Dama; crossbreds.

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