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The effects of dietary energy and protein concentrations on ostrich skin quality

SWP Cloete
SJ van Schalkwyk
TS Brand
LC Hoffman
CJ Nel


The effects were investigated of energy and protein concentrations (with associated amino acid concentrations) in ostrich diets on leather quality of the skins of 50 ostriches. Energy concentrations were 9.0, 10.5 and 12.0 MJ ME/kg diet and protein concentrations were 130, 150 and 170 g/kg diet. The physical leather parameters that were assessed included tensile strength, elongation, slit tear strength and skin thickness. All traits were assessed in samples taken parallel or perpendicular to the spine in the butt region of the slaughter bird. The raw skin weights of ostriches consuming the diets with energy concentrations of 10.5 and 12.0 MJ ME/kg diet were respectively 19.4 and 21.8% heavier at slaughter than those of their contemporaries on the 9.0 MJ ME/kg DM diet. A corresponding trend was found for trimmed skin weight, and the increase in skin weight with diets higher in energy exceeded 10%. Differences between skin area means only approached significance, with a tendency to increase with an increased energy concentration. Leather thickness taken parallel to the spine was increased by 13% in the diet containing 12 MJ ME/kg diet, compared to the diet containing 9.0 MJ ME/kg. Dietary protein concentrations failed to influence skin weight, skin area or any of the physical leather properties. The skins of male ostriches were thicker than those of females. The study suggested that the lowest levels of energy and protein supplied, were sufficient to prevent a decline in physical leather quality.

South African Journal of Animal Science Vol. 36(1) 2006: 40-44

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eISSN: 2221-4062
print ISSN: 0375-1589