Table_1_A Note on the Tracing of Herbage Contribution to Grazing Sheep Diet Using Milk and Feces Biomarkers.docx (33.87 kB)
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Table_1_A Note on the Tracing of Herbage Contribution to Grazing Sheep Diet Using Milk and Feces Biomarkers.docx

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posted on 19.02.2021, 05:23 by Giovanni Molle, Andrea Cabiddu, Mauro Decandia, Marco Acciaro, Giuseppe Scanu, Margherita Addis, Myriam Fiori, Marco Caredda

Milk from grazing ruminants is usually rich in beneficial components for human health, but distinguishing milks sourced from grazing is difficult, and this hinders the valuing of the grazing benefit. This study aimed at evaluating the ability of milk biomarkers (1) to trace milks sourced from sheep submitted to different access times (ATs) to pasture and (2) to estimate sheep herbage dry matter intake (HDMI, g DM ewe−1 d−1) and herbage percentage (HP, % DM) in sheep diet. Animal data derive from a published experiment in which six replicated groups of mid-lactation Sarda sheep had ATs of 2, 4, or 6 h d−1 to a ryegrass pasture. Sheep HDMI and HP of each group were measured on four dates in April 2013. Group milk was sampled, and milk fatty acids (FAs) and n-alkanes were determined by gas chromatography. The latter markers were also measured in feces samples bulked by group. The data (N = 24 records) were submitted to Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) aimed at distinguishing the AT to pasture based on biomarkers previously selected by Genetic Algorithms (GA). Partial Least Square Regression (PLSR) models were used to estimate HDMI and HP using biomarkers selected by GA. Based on one milk alkane and six milk FAs as biomarkers, estimates of the AT using GA-LDA were 95.8% accurate. The estimation of HDMI by GA-PLSR based on five milk FAs was moderately precise [explained variance = 75.2%; percentage of the residual mean square error of cross-validation over the mean value (RMSECV%) = 15.0%]. The estimation of HP by GA-PLSR based on 1 milk alkane and 10 FAs was precise (explained variance = 80.8%; RMSECV% = 7.4%). To conclude, these preliminary results suggest that milks sourced from sheep flocks with AT to pasture differentiated by 2 h in the range 2–6 h d−1 can be precisely discriminated using milk biomarkers. The contribution of herbage to sheep diet can also be precisely estimated.

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