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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Production

Effects of supplementing endophyte-infected tall fescue with sainfoin and polyethylene glycol on the physiology and ingestive behavior of sheep12


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 92 No. 2, p. 744-757
    Received: May 16, 2013
    Accepted: Nov 22, 2013
    Published: November 24, 2014

    3 Corresponding author(s):

  1. F. Catanese*,
  2. R. A. Distel* and
  3. J. J. Villalba 3
  1. Centro de Recursos Naturales Renovables de la Zona Semiárida (CERZOS), Centro CientíficoTecnológico CONICET Bahía Blanca, and Departamento de Agronomía, Universidad Nacional del Sur, 8000 Bahía Blanca, Argentina
    Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan 84322-5230


Tannins in sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) may bind to alkaloids in endophyte-infected tall fescue [E+; Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh.] and attenuate toxicosis. If so, supplementing E+ with sainfoin will increase use of E+ by sheep, and polyethylene glycol (PEG)—a polymer that selectively binds to tannins—will reduce such response. To test these predictions, thirty-six 2-mo-old lambs were randomly assigned to 3 treatments (12 lambs/treatment). During exposure, all lambs were individually penned and fed E+ supplemented with beet pulp (CTRL), fresh-cut sainfoin and beet pulp (SAIN), or fresh-cut sainfoin plus PEG mixed in beet pulp (SAIN+PEG). Feed intake was measured daily. Rectal temperatures and jugular blood samples were taken at the beginning and end of exposure. After exposure, all lambs were offered choices between endophyte-free tall fescue (E–) and orchardgrass, and preference for E– was assessed. Then, all lambs were allowed to graze a choice of E+ and sainfoin or a monoculture of E+. The foraging behavior of lambs was recorded. When sainfoin was in mid-vegetative stage, lambs in SAIN ingested more E+ than lambs in CTRL (P = 0.05), but no differences were detected between lambs in SAIN+PEG and CTRL (P = 0.12). Sainfoin supplementation improved some physiological parameters indicative of fescue toxicosis. Lambs in SAIN had lower rectal temperatures (P = 0.02), greater numbers of leukocytes (P < 0.001) and lymphocytes (P = 0.03), and greater plasmatic concentrations of globulin (P = 0.009) and prolactin (P = 0.019) than lambs in CTRL. Some of these differences were offset by the SAIN+PEG treatment. When lambs were offered choices between E– and orchardgrass, only lambs in SAIN had greater intake of E– than lambs in CTRL (P < 0.001). When lambs were allowed to graze a choice of E+ and sainfoin, all treatments used E+ to the same extent (P > 0.05). On the other hand, when they grazed on a monoculture of E+, lambs in SAIN+PEG showed greater acceptance of E+ than lambs in SAIN or in CTRL (P < 0.05). In summary, sainfoin supplementation alleviated several of the classic signs of fescue toxicosis and increased intake of endophyte-infected tall fescue. Tannins in sainfoin partially accounted for this benefit since feeding a polymer that selectively binds to tannins (PEG) attenuated some these responses. However, sainfoin supplementation during initial exposure to E+ did not lead to an increased preference for E+ during grazing.

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