Digestibility and roughage intake in a group of captive giraffes
The study group consisted of 3 adult females and 2 subadult females (3 and 1.5 years old). The diet was composed of lucerne hay ad lib., fresh browse (winter: leafless; summer: with leaves), dried chestnut leaves (only winter), fresh lucerne/grass mixture (only summer), different concentrates (pelleted zoo compounds, unmolassed beet pulp, soybean extraction chips) and some produce. Feed intake was quantified over 8-12 days on two occasions (representing summer and winter feeding conditions).
The proportion of roughage in the diet was 65 % in winter and 73 % in summer (on a dry matter base). Dry matter digestibility was 52%. The frequency of oral activities (activity/kg DM) differed considerably between feedstuffs. Intake of the whole group was evaluated to be lower in winter than during summer feeding. All animals were considered to be in a good condition. Compared to published data, the high proportion of forage consumed by the studied giraffes is remarkable. Thus sufficient energy provision could be managed despite a forage intake of 65-73 %. This agrees with recommendations proposing a forage proportion of 60-70 % for giraffe diets (Lintzenich and Ward, 1997). The results will be discussed with respect to nutrition and its potential effect on feeding behaviour.
Lintzenich, B.A.; Ward, A. M. (1997): Hay and pellet ratios: Considerations on feeding ungulates. Fact sheet 006 in: Nutrition advisory handbook.