Effects of restricted feeding and re-alimentation of dietary protein or energy on compensatory growth of sheep
The study investigated the effects of re-alimenting dietary protein or energy on growth, carcass characteristics and meat eating quality parameters of sheep. Twenty-seven intact rams (~9 months; 11.3 ± 0.5 kg) were randomly divided into three groups. Each group was fed a maintenance diet (MT) containing, on dry matter (DM) basis, 105 g/kg crude protein (CP) and 8.4 MJ/kg DM metabolizable energy (ME) for 30 days. Thereafter, they were continually fed the same MT or re-alimented with a high protein diet (HP) containing 169 g/kg DM CP and 9.3 MJ/kg ME or a high energy diet (HE) containing 123 g/kg DM CP and 10.6 MJ/kg ME for an additional 30 days to determine the effects of re-alimentation of protein or energy on their growth performance and carcass characteristics. During the initial 30-day period, DM intake (DMI) and growth performance were similar among the three groups. However, upon re-alimentation, average daily gain (ADG) and feed efficiency of sheep re-alimented with HP were greater than those maintained continually on MT or re-alimented with HE. Sheep on HP had higher feed efficiency, ADG and heavier carcasses than those fed MT or re-alimented with HE during the whole 60-day period. Growth of most viscera was less responsive to the restriction-re-alimentation feeding regimen except for the weights of the lungs, heart and intestines. Meat from sheep re-alimented with HE had a more intense ‘sheepy’ flavour than those fed MT or re-alimented with HP, but juiciness and tenderness were not affected. The higher ADG of sheep re-alimented with protein may be related more to enhanced efficiency of feed utilization than to higher DMI.
Keywords: average daily gain, feed restriction, nutrient utilization efficiency, visceral organs