Physical characteristics of the alimentary tract in relation to seasonal changes in voluntary food intake by the red deer

Sibbald, A.M.; Milne, J.A.

Journal of Agricultural Science 120(1): 99-102


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8596
Accession: 032815046

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Voluntary intakes of a medium-quality grass hay were measured in winter (early January) and in spring (late April) near Edinburgh for two separate groups of six red deer, together with digestibility and mean retention times of the particulate-phase marker, 103Ru-phenanthroline. The deer were then slaughtered and the weights of digesta and the dimensions of the alimentary tract were measured. Voluntary intakes of dry matter were significantly higher in spring than in winter, but there was no difference in digestibility or mean retention time of 103Ru-phenanthroline. There were no significant differences in any of the organ weights or the dimensions of the intenstines between the groups slaughtered in winter and spring. Dry matter proportions of digesta in the rumen, abomasum, small intestine and caecum, the wet and dry weights of rumen digesta and the water-filled capacity of the rumen were significantly greater in spring.