Feed intake and efficiency of digestion of the consumed feed by the animal are very important factors affecting productivity in ruminants kept on roughage-based diets.  Because the amount of nutrient available for metabolic activities and subsequent conversion to useful products such as meat, milk and fibre are dependent on the amount of feed consumed (where intake is a limiting factor) as well as proportion of feed retained in the body out of that consumed (feed digestibility). Feed digestibility is both an animal and a plant factor (Van Soest, 1982). However, there are evidences of genetic differences in the efficiency of digestion of the same feed (Maloiy, 1972 ; Devendra, 1977 ; Migongo-Bake, 1992). However, majority of these studies were inter-species comparisons and, thus, there is limited information on within species and/or within breed differences in digestive efficiency of a common feed. Consequently, little is known whether it is possible to breed ruminants for a greater capacity for efficiency of feed digestion. The objectives of this study were, therefore, to estimate between- and within-breed differences in feed intake and digestive efficiency, in terms of apparent feed dry matter (DM) digestibility, in Menz and Horro sheep of Ethiopia. 

E. Ermias, A. Yami, J. EO Rege

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 10, , 10.19, 2002
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