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Feeding Dairy Ewes with Fresh or Dehydrated Sulla (Sulla coronarium L.) Forage. 1. Effects on Feed Utilization, Milk Production, and Oxidative Status

  • Autori: Gannuscio, Riccardo; Ponte, Marialetizia; Di Grigoli, Antonino; Maniaci, Giuseppe; Di Trana, Adriana; Bacchi, Monica; Alabiso, Marco; Bonanno, Adriana; Todaro, Massimo
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2022
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Feeding dairy ewes with fresh sulla forage (FSF), a legume species containing condensed tannins (CT), has been shown to increase feed intake, milk yield, and casein and enhances the oxidative status of animals. Dehydration of FSF could be an alternative to hay-making to preserve the nutritional properties. This research aimed to compare the responses of dairy ewes fed with diets based on sulla hay (SH), pelleted dehydrated sulla forage (DSF), or FSF in terms of efficiency of feed utilization, milk production, and the balance between oxidant (reactive oxygen metabolites (ROMs)) and antioxidant (biological antioxidant potential (BAP)) substances at the plasma level. Ten first-lambing (FL) and ten third-lambing (TL) ewes of the Valle del Belice breed at 60 days in milk were allocated into five homogeneous groups fed with different diets in a partial 5 × 2 Latin square design with two phases. The diets differed for the forage basis: SHL = SH ad libitum; DSF2 = 2 kg/day DSF per head plus SH ad libitum; FSF2 = 2 kg/day FSF per head plus SH ad libitum; FSF4 = 4 kg/day FSF per head plus SH ad libitum; FSFL = FSF ad libitum. A commercial concentrate was provided to FL (0.8 kg/day per head) and TL (1.2 kg/day per head) ewes. Dehydration induced slight variations in the content of protein and fiber, showed no loss of vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and decreased the level of CT and polyphenols. The DSF2 diet resulted in a higher intake of dry matter, protein, and vitamin E compared to the other diets, whereas, compared to the FSFL diet, its intake was analogous for net energy and was lower in CT and polyphenols. The DSF2 diet was comparable to FSF4 and FSFL diets for milk yield, and to all diets for casein content and the clotting ability of milk. Ewes fed a DSF2 diet exhibited lowest values of ROMs and oxidative stress index (OSI = ROMs/BAP), indicating a better oxidative status, presumably due to the antioxidant protection exerted by the higher vitamin E intake and CT metabolites. These results confirmed the positive effects of FSF on milk production, especially due to CT intake, in improving the efficiency of dietary protein utilization, and showed how favorable effects also occur when FSF is replaced by DSF instead of SH.