Twelve lambs, weaned at 6 weeks of age, were used to study the development of rumen function from 6 to 24 weeks of age when offered clover hay ad libitum. Six of the lambs were cannulated at the abomasum on weaning and the remaining 6 remained intact. Dry matter intake (g/kg live weight) increased rapidly until 10 weeks of age and subsequently remained constant at 33 to 37 g DM/kgLW. in vivo DM digestibility and marker rumen retention time decreased initially (0.693 in week 7 v 0.664 in week 9 and 14.5 hours in week 8 v 10.9 hours in week 12 respectively) but were constant thereafter. The proportion of digestible DM apparently digested in the rumen was low (0.45) but was similar at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. There were no differences between the intact and cannulated lambs in DM intake and digestibility or in marker retention time in the rumen.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 44, , 105-108, 1984
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