Use of n-alkanes to estimate feed intake in ruminants: A meta-analysis

Andriarimalala José Herilalao, Dubeux Jose Carlos B., DiLorenzo Nicolas, Mirabedini Jaramillo David, De Neupomuscène Rakotozandriny Jean, Salgado Paulo. 2020. Use of n-alkanes to estimate feed intake in ruminants: A meta-analysis. Journal of Animal Science, 98 (10):skaa304, 39 p.

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Abstract : Precise techniques to estimate feed intake by ruminants is critical to enhance feed efficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient losses to the environment. Using a meta-analysis, we evaluated the accuracy of the n-alkane technique to predict feed intake in cattle and sheep, and assessed the relationships between feed intake and fecal recovery of n-alkanes. The database was composed of 28 studies, including 129 treatments (87 and 42 for cattle and sheep, respectively) and 402 animals (232 cattle and 170 sheep) fed at troughs, from published studies. Relationships between observed (in vivo measurement) and predicted feed intake by C31:C32 and C32:C33 n-alkane pairs were evaluated by regression. Meta-regression addressed the relationships between the difference in fecal recovery of n-alkane pairs and the error in intake estimation, as well as the amount and duration of C32 n-alkane dosing. Regression of observed intake on n-alkane-based estimates revealed good relationships in cattle (adjusted R² = 0.99 for C31:C32, and adjusted R² = 0.98 for C32:C33; P < 0.0001) and in sheep (adjusted R² = 0.94 for C31:C32, and adjusted R² = 0.96 for C32:C33; P < 0.0001). Fecal recovery of natural n-alkanes showed coefficient of variation about 15 and 16% for C31 and C33, respectively in cattle. In sheep, the coefficient variation was 8 and 14% for C31 and C33, respectively. The relationships between the difference of fecal recovery of n-alkane pairs and the error in feed intake estimation in cattle were characterized by an adjusted R² = 0.83 for C31:C32 (P < 0.0001) and adjusted R² = 0.93 for C32:C33 (P < 0.0001). In sheep, they were characterized by an adjusted R² = 0.69 for C31:C32 (P < 0.001) and adjusted R² = 0.76 for C32:C33 (P < 0.001). The n-alkane technique provided reliability for estimating feed intake in cattle and sheep in barn experiments. The present meta-analysis demonstrated that without correction for differences in fecal recovery of n-alkane pairs, deviation in feed intake prediction would occur. However, further research is necessary to determine the relationship between the n-alkane dosing procedure (daily amount and duration of dosing) and fecal recovery of n-alkane.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Prise alimentaire (animaux), Fèces, Alcane, donnée agrégée, Simulation, Ruminant, Bovin, Ovin, Excréments, Modélisation, données expérimentales

Mots-clés complémentaires : Régression (statistique)

Mots-clés libres : Cattle, Feed intake, Markers, Recovery, Sheep

Classification Agris : L02 - Animal feeding

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 2 (2019-) - Transitions agroécologiques

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Andriarimalala José Herilalao, Université d'Antananarivo (MDG) - auteur correspondant
  • Dubeux Jose Carlos B., University of Florida (USA)
  • DiLorenzo Nicolas, University of Florida (USA)
  • Mirabedini Jaramillo David, University of Florida (USA)
  • De Neupomuscène Rakotozandriny Jean, Université d'Antananarivo (MDG)
  • Salgado Paulo, CIRAD-ES-UMR SELMET (MDG)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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