Cannas, Antonello and Atzori, Alberto Stanislao (2005) Development and evaluation of a model to predict sheep nutrient requirements and feed utilisation. Italian Journal of Animal Science, Vol. 4 (Suppl. 1), p. 15-33. eISSN 1828-051X. Article.
A new feeding system for sheep, called MIPAF, was developed by integrating previously published equations with new ones to predict energy and protein requirements as well as feed utilization of sheep. Special emphasis was given to dairy sheep, whose specific needs are not considered by most sheep feeding systems, and to some of the environmental factors that affect requirements. Original equations were added to predict fluxes in body energy reserves from body weight (BW) and body condition score. The prediction of supply of nutrients was based on the discount system of Van Soest. Thus, the MIPAF system predicts feed value as a function of the specific feeding level of the sheep that receive the ration. The ability of the MIPAF model to predict BW variations was evaluated using data from six studies with adult sheep (13 treatments with lactating ewes and 15 with dry ewes or wethers). The model predicted the variations of BW in sheep with no bias, but with high rooted mean squared prediction error (RMSPE) (mean bias = -0.1 g/d; P > 0.1; RMSPE = 44.9 g/d; n = 28). Three extreme outliers were discarded because the treatment diets, made only of wheat straw and supplied to mature wethers, had very low CP concentrations (less than 3.25%, DM basis). After the outliers were removed, the prediction error improved but the mean bias became significantly different from zero (mean bias = -12.3 g/d; P < 0.05; RMSPE = 29.6 g/d; n = 25). Prediction accuracy was different between lactating and non lactating sheep. Variations of BW in lactating ewes were predicted with high accuracy (mean bias = 6.8 g/d; P > 0.1; RMSPE = 18.7 g/d; n = 13), while for dry ewes the model was less accurate, under predicting the variations in BW (mean bias = -33.0 g/d, P < 0.001; RMSPE = 38.1 g/d; n = 12). The evaluations included published experiments with sheep of diverse body sizes and physiological stages fed diverse diets at various levels of nutrition. This suggests that the MIPAF model can be used to evaluate diets and animal performance in a variety of production settings with good accuracy.
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