Nutritional Physiology of the Adult Ruminant

Nutritional Physiology of the Adult Ruminant

Nutritional Physiology of the Adult Ruminant

Nutritional Physiology of the Adult Ruminant

Excerpt

The biological balance in nature is based on maintenance of a sufficient supply of herb-eating species to maintain the existence of the Carnivora. By domestication this relationship has become more highly specialized and limited to fewer species, but it supports immeasurably greater numbers. In other words, this exploitation of Herbivora, primarily of the ruminants, by man is the basic factor that has made the tremendous numerical expansion of the human race possible. In relation to human welfare all species of animal are of subsidiary importance to those that serve most efficiently to transform common plant life, which is inedible as human food, into substances that meet man's dietetic or physiological requirements. From this standpoint the ruminant has become the great intermediary between grass and human welfare. Such ruminants as the beef steer and the dairy cow are, therefore, decided economic assets, as they are provided with a digestive system able to convert the hay and grain that they consume into meat and milk for human nutrition.

One of the physiological functions peculiar to the ruminant and not to other animal species, a function that promotes greater efficiency in the conversion of coarse fodders into meat or milk, is rumination, that is, the function by which such feed is first subjected to a softening process and a partial decomposition by fermentation before the animal brings it back to the mouth for leisurely and thorough mastication. This function has given an advantage to those species such as deer, goats, and sheep (primarily in their feral state) that are dependent on the relatively fibrous browse and tender twigs to carry them through periods of drouth or winter. Likewise the ability to graze rapidly and with less regard for a selective diet has served in a protective sense to wild life, as it has resulted in less exposure of such animals to attack by other animals. The evolution of species suggests that the ruminant was better fitted to survive, for it exists even today in a far greater number of species than such herbivorous competitors as the horse or the ass which, unlike deer, moose, caribou, and musk ox, would be unable to survive a northern winter in a feral state.

The commonest rule in practical as well as in supposedly scientific livestock feeding implies that a most liberal provision of food under any and . . .

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