A fecal near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy-aided methodology to determine goat dietary composition in a Mediterranean shrubland.
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An ecologically sound approach to the problem of brush encroachment onto Israeli rangeland might be their utilization by goats, but better knowledge of the feeding selectivity and ability of goats to thrive in encroached areas is required to devise viable production systems. Direct observation of bites could provide precise and accurate estimates of diet selection, but construction of a sufficiently large database would require too much time. The present study describes the first attempt to construct fecal near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) calibrations of the botanical and nutritional composition of the diet, and of the total intake of free-ranging goats, based on reference values determined with bite-count procedures. Calibration of fecal NIRS was based on 43 observations encompassing 3 goat breeds and 4 periods (spring, summer, and fall of 2004, and spring of 2005). Each observation comprised 242 min of continuous recording of the species and bite-type category selected by a single animal, on each of 2 consecutive days. The mass and chemical quality of each species and bite-type category-a total of more than 200,000 bites-were determined by using the simulated bite technique. Associated feces were scanned in the 1,100- to 2,500-nm range with a reflectance monochromator. Fecal NIRS calibrations had reasonable precision for dietary percentages of the 3 main botanical components: herbaceous vegetation (as one category; R(2) = 0.85), Phillyrea latifolia (R(2) = 0.89), and tannin-rich Pistacia lentiscus (R(2) = 0.77), with SE of cross-validation (SECV) of 7.8, 6.3, and 5.6% of DM, respectively. The R(2) values for dietary percentages of CP, NDF, IVDMD, and polyethylene glycol-binding tannins were 0.93, 0.88, 0.91, and 0.74, respectively, with SECV values of 0.9, 2.1, 4.3, and 0.9% of DM, respectively. The R(2) values for intakes of herbaceous vegetation, P. latifolia, and P. lentiscus were 0.80, 0.75, and 0.65, with SECV values of 71, 64, and 46 g of DM/d, respectively. The R(2) values for the daily nutrient intakes were below 0.60. Fecal NIRS data can be used to expand the databases of botanical and nutritional dietary composition when observed and resident animals graze simultaneously, but intakes should be calculated from fecal NIRS-predicted dietary DM composition and an independent evaluation of DMI.
author list (cited authors)
Glasser, T., Landau, S., Ungar, E. D., Perevolotsky, A., Dvash, L., Muklada, H., Kababya, D., & Walker, J. W.