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Effects of Supplementation with Different Forms of Barley on Feed Intake, Digestibility, Live Weight Change and Carcass Characteristics of Hararghe Highland Sheep Fed Natural Pasture

Sefa Salo, Mengistu Urge and Getachew Animut

This study was conducted using 24 yearling intact male Hararghe highland sheep with initial body weight (BW) of 15.7 ± 2.3 kg (Mean ± SD), to determine effects of supplementing different forms of barley grain to natural pasture hay basal diet on feed intake, digestibility, average daily BW gain (ADG) and carcass parameters. Animals were grouped into 6 blocks of 4 animals based on initial BW and were randomly assigned to the four treatments. Treatments were feeding hay ad libitum alone (T1) or supplemented with 300 g dry matter (DM) of raw barley (RB, T2), malted barley (MB, T3) or cracked barley (CB, T4). All animals received 50 g DM supplemental noug seed cake (NSC) and had a free access to water and mineral block. The experiment consisted 90 days of feeding and 7 days digestibility trials and carcass evaluation at the end. The crude protein (CP) content of hay, NSC, RB, MB and CB were 6.6, 35.7, 11.7, 12.5 and 11.6%, respectively. Hay DM intake was higher for T1 (523 g/day) than other treatments (360- 425 g/day). Total DM intake (573, 710, 723 and 775 g/day (SEM = 29.5)) and CP intake (52, 77, 77 and 83 g/day (SEM = 2.0) for T1, T2, T3 and T4, respectively) was lower for T1 than supplemented groups, with no difference (P > 0.05) among the supplemented treatments. Digestibility of CP (55.8, 71.1, 69.0 and 70.0% for T1, T2, T3 and T4, respectively (SEM = 1.93)) were higher (P < 0.05) in supplemented sheep than T1. ADG of 13, 73, 87 and 83 g/day for T1, T2, T3 and T4, respectively (SEM = 6.0), was also greater (P < 0.05) for the supplemented groups than T1. Barley supplementation resulted in a higher (P < 0.05) hot carcass weight than T1 (6.0, 10.0, 10.7 and 10.5 kg for T1, T2, T3 and T4, respectively (SEM = 0.56). The results of this study highlighted that treatment of barley as in malting and cracking do not alter the performance of sheep as compared to the untreated barley. Thus, supplementation with raw barley is recommended. In general, supplementing animals with energy dense diet has proven to improve animal performance and profitability.