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A comparison of methods for estimating forage intake, digestibility, and fecal output in red deer (Cervus elaphus)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 21:36 authored by Karen Garrett, M. R. Beck, K. Froehlich, A. Fleming, Bryan ThompsonBryan Thompson, David StevensDavid Stevens, Pablo Gregorini
Abstract The objective of this experiment was to determine appropriate methods for estimating fecal output, digestibility, and intake in red deer (Cervus elaphus). Dry matter intake (DMI), digestibility, and fecal output were estimated using the dual marker (Titanium dioxide; TiO2 and indigestible acid detergent fiber; IADF) technique, double n-alkane ratio technique (ALK) and the pulse dose (Yttrium; Y) technique to determine a suitable method to estimate DMI, fecal output, and digestibility measurements. Four male and four female deer were stratified by sex and randomly assigned either fresh-cut perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) or fresh-cut plantain (Plantago lanceoloata) ad libitum in a cross-over design experiment. Actual DMI (mean ± SD: 1.5 ± 0.36 kg DM/d), digestibility (0.70 ± 0.06), and fecal output (0.45 ± 0.1 kg DM/d) were measured daily over the collection periods and the average of each period were used for methods’ comparison. The ALK method adequately estimated digestibility and fecal output of plantain; however, overestimated digestibility (P < 0.05) and DMI of ryegrass, so that there was no statistical agreement (P > 0.10) in DMI when diets were pooled. The overestimated DMI of the ryegrass diet led to ALK predicting greater intake when deer consumed ryegrass than plantain, which was the opposite of actual measurements. The pulse dosed Y overestimated (P < 0.05) fecal output and consequently DMI for both plantain and ryegrass; however, indicated similar trends to actual values. The dual marker technique using TiO2 was able to detect the statistical differences between plantain and ryegrass as the actual measurements, had moderate to strong precision (r = 0.50-0.66) and statistical agreement (P < 0.05) with the pooled diet data. Therefore, the dual marker technique provided the best alternative estimation method to actual measurements of forage dry matter intake of grazing red deer.


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© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


Oxford University Press

Journal title

Journal of Animal Science




Garrett, K., Beck, M. R., Froehlich, K., Fleming, A., Thompson, B. R., Stevens, D. R., & Gregorini, P. (2020). A comparison of methods for estimating forage intake, digestibility, and fecal output in red deer (Cervus elaphus). Journal of Animal Science, 98(3), skaa069. doi:10.1093/jas/skaa069

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