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Tanzania Journal of Agricultural Sciences

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The effect of feeding position and body size on the capacity of small ruminants to reach, for food when fed through barriers

VRM Muhikambele, NF Massawe, LA Mtenga, EA Butler, E Owen

Abstract


Small ruminant systems, especially with intensification in the tropics, are increasingly involving indoor stall-feeding. To facilitate manger design, there is a need for information on the ability of the animal to reach for food, such as that available for cattle fed through barriers. Thirty eight goats (20 Galla, mean weight 28.2 kg, 18 Small East African; mean weight 24. 6 kg) and 26 sheep (16 Blackhead Persian, mean weight 24.0 kg, 10 Red Maasai, mean weight 20.4 kg), were trained to reach for concentrate meal placed on a horizontal platform through a vertical tombstone barrier. The barrier allowed the neck to pass through, but not the shoulders. It was hypothesized that goats would have larger reach than sheep and that for each species, horizontal reach forwards, F, (distance from mid-point of barrier to uneaten meal) and sideways, S, (distances sideways from mid-point of barrier to uneaten meal adjacent to barrier) would be function of height of platform above the floor (0, 15, 30 and 45 cm) and body size (weight and linear measurements, e.g. body length). Goats had significantly larger F and S values than sheep. Mean values for F at platform heights 0, 15, 30 and 45 cm were 37.9, 41.8, 44.7 and 39.4 cm respectively for sheep and 45:4, 46.6, 47.2 and 43.0 cm respectively for goats. Values for S were smaller, but followed a similar pattern. Linear correlation coefficients between For S and dimensions in sheep were all low (0-0.5), but in goats, especially for F, correlations were generally high (0.4-0.8). Except for the low correlation between reach and size in sheep, the results supported the hypotheses. The data will facilitate manger design for small ruminants of similar breeds, having dimensions in the range of those used in the study.

Keywords: Reach for food,sheep, goats, barriers, body dimensions

Tanzania·J. Agric. Sc. (2090) Vol. 3 No. 1, 63-68



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