Enhanced acceptance of unconventional feed resources by ruminants through nutritional intervention early in life

01 August 2014 → 30 September 2020
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Animal biology
    • General biology
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Agricultural animal production
    • Agricultural plant production
    • Agriculture, land and farm management
    • Other agriculture, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences
    • Veterinary medicine
anti-nutritional factors early life programming (ELP) rumen fiber degradation
Project description

The hypothesis to test here is that the maternal diet (either during pregnancy and/or during the suckling period) and/or dietary interventions during the pre-weaning period influence the microbial population that first establishes in the rumen which further influences the microbial ecosystem post-weaning as well as the efficiency of ruminal fermentation and detoxification processes.

Attempts for interventions in early life with lasting effects up to adulthood typically require long term experiments, which is in conflict with a PhD research program within a 3 to 4-years timeframe. Accordingly, experiments with cattle are expensive and have limited chances of progress and success within the timeframe of a PhD. Hence, for a proof of concept as envisaged within this PhD research, sheep will be used as model animals.

The sheep studies established in the frame of this PhD research aim at assessing whether nutritional interventions in early life might enhance 1/ the number and activity of fibrolytic bacteria and the potential of ruminal fiber degradation, 2/ the number and activity of rumen bacteria degrading specific ANF present in selected legume species, 3/ ingestion of fibrous feed resources and legumes and 4/ performance of young livestock. 5/ Finally, attempts will be made as to understand the working mechanism of long-term effects of early-life interventions.