Legume grain-based supplements in dairy sheep diet: Effects on milk yield, composition and fatty acid profile

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With the aim to find protein sources that are free of genetically modified organisms, the effects of legume grain-based concentrates, used as alternatives of a mixed concentrate feed containing soybean, were evaluated on sheep milk production. Twelve lactating ewes were divided into four groups, fed hay and, according to a 4 × 4 Latin square design, supplied with 800 g/day of a commercial mixed concentrate feed (MCF) containing maize and soybean, or the same amount of isoprotein concentrates consisting of chickpea (CH), faba bean (FB), or pea (PE) mixed with barley. The ewes ingested more of the concentrates with legume grains than the MCF (702, 702, 678 vs 587 g/day DM for CH, FB, PE and MCF; P ≤ 0.001). Compared with CH, FB and PE resulted in greater (P ≤ 0.05) milk yield (710, 718 vs 654 g/day for FB, PE and CH, respectively), and led to a greater (P ≤ 0.05) efficiency of dietary protein utilisation for milk casein synthesis (94, 97 vs 87 g casein/kg crude protein intake for FB, PE and CH, respectively), whereas MCF resulted in intermediate levels of milk yield (677 g/day) and milk casein/crude protein intake (88 g/kg). Chickpea increased the milk content of trans-vaccenic and rumenic acids in comparison with FB and PE and, similarly to MCF, increased the milk content of linoleic acid, as well as total unsaturated fatty acids (24.3, 23.9 vs 17.2, 16.8 g/100 g fatty acid methyl esters for MCF, CH, FB and PE; P ≤ 0.001), thereby improving the potential health-promoting index. Legume grains can replace soybean in diets of dairy ewes, as they do not adversely affect milk yield and composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-140
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Production Science
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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