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Effects of crude glycerin supplementation on wool production, feeding behavior, and body condition of Merino ewes

Meale, S.J., Chaves, A.V., Ding, S., Bush, R.D., McAllister, T.A. (2013). Effects of crude glycerin supplementation on wool production, feeding behavior, and body condition of Merino ewes, 91(2), 878-885.


The increasing availability of crude glycerin from the biodiesel industry has led to an interest in its use as an energy source in ruminant diets. However, its effects on ruminal fermentation patterns and methane (CH4) production are unclear, and there are no reports on the effect of its inclusion in the diet on wool production or growth of Merino sheep. Thus, the objectives of this study were to determine the effects of increasing levels of crude glycerin on in vitro ruminal fermentation and CH4 production and DMI, BW, feeding behavior, and wool growth and quality in Merino ewes. Crude glycerin (99.2% pure, colorless, odorless, viscous liquid) replaced whole wheat grain in completely pelleted diets at levels of 0%, 6%, and 12% DM in both in vitro and in vivo studies. For in vitro studies, diets were dried and ground through a 1-mm screen and incubated on 2 different days for 24 h. Modified McDougal's buffer and rumen liquor were mixed 3:1, and gas production and CH4 concentration was measured after 6, 12, and 24 h of incubation with pH and IVDMD measured at 24 h. Cumulative gas (mL/g DM) and methane (mL) production was similar (P ≥ 0.35) among dietary treatments. In vitro dry matter disappearance (%) increased (P < 0.01) with increasing concentrations of crude glycerin. For the in vivo study, 39 Merino ewes were randomly assigned to 3 treatments (n = 13 ewes/treatment). Pelleted diets were available continuously for a 10-wk period through the use of automatic feeders. Ewes were weighed every 7 d. Wool yield was determined on mid-side patches of 100 cm2 shorn at d 0 and d 70. Dye bands were used to determine wool growth and fiber length. Intake and ADG were similar among treatments (P = 0.59). Neither wool yield, length, spinning fineness, nor fiber diameter (μm) were affected after supplementation with crude glycerin (P ≥ 0.13). This study indicates the potential for crude glycerin to be included in the diets of Merino sheep at up to 12% DM without negatively affecting wool yield and quality. © 2013 American Society of Animal Science.

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