South African Journal of Animal Science
Print version ISSN 0375-1589
EINKAMERER, O.B.; WAAL, H.O. de; COMBRINCK, W.J. and FAIR, M.D.. Feed utilization and growth of Dorper wethers on Opuntia-based diets. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2009, vol.39, n.5, pp. 53-57. ISSN 0375-1589.
Incremental levels of sun-dried and coarsely ground cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica var. Algerian) cladodes were used to substitute part of the lucerne hay in balanced diets fed to Dorper wethers (n = 28; 33.90 ± 2.98 kg) during a trial period of 63 days. The three treatment diets (T0, T24 and T36) comprised respectively (air dry basis) 0, 240 and 360 g/kg Opuntia; 660, 410 and 285 g/kg lucerne hay; 300 g/kg maize meal; 0, 10 and 15 g/kg feed grade urea; and 40 g/kg molasses meal. Apparent DM digestibility coefficients increased significantly (0.714, 0.732, and 0.756) with Opuntia inclusion in diets. Feed dry matter (DM) intake (1.368, 1.345 and 1.317 kg DM/day) and average daily gain (117.8, 116.4 and 95.6 g/day) decreased slightly as Opuntia inclusion increased. Similar to previous studies the ingestion of Opuntia caused the production of wet faeces by the wethers. It was concluded that adequate nutrients were provided by these diets for maintenance and a moderate level of production in the Dorper wethers.
Keywords : Cactus pear; digestibility; feed intake; live weight gain; sheep; sun-dried.