Evaluation of two milk replacers fed to hand-reared cheetah cubs: nutrient composition, apparent total tract digestibility, and comparison to maternal cheetah milk
Commercially prepared milk replacers are frequently used to provide the sole source of nutrition for hand-reared cheetah cubs (Acinonyx jubatus). The nutrient composition of two commonly used milk replacers was determined.
Using titanium dioxide as an indigestible marker, nutrient digestibility was calculated from the analyses of fecal samples collected from each cub (n = 4 on formula 1, and n = 2 on formula 2). Mean apparent total tract digestibility for both formulas was >90% for all nutrients analyzed (crude protein, amino acids, crude fat (CF), and dry matter). However, the total CF content and the concentration of the essential fatty acids, such as α-linolenic, linolenic, and arachidonic acid, of both formulas was lower than reported for maternal cheetah milk. Additionally, one formula contained a comparatively high amount of carbohydrate, at the expense of protein. Although data were lacking for cheetah maternal milk, comparison with domestic cat milk revealed high concentrations of a number of minerals (K, Fe, Zn, and Cu), while vitamin D(3) was not detected in one formula. Both formulas were low in the majority of essential amino acids compared with domestic cat maternal milk. Despite their apparently high digestibility, neither formula was complete or balanced in terms of nutrient concentrations and ratios when maternal cheetah milk and/or the requirements established for growth in domestic cats were used as estimates of ideal. On this basis, although all cubs in this study were healthy and maintained good body conditions for the duration of the trial, the results of dietary analyses indicate that these milk replacers may not provide optimal nutrition for growth in cheetah cubs when used for extended periods.
Title: Evaluation of two milk replacers fed to hand-reared cheetah cubs (Acinonyx jubatus): nutrient composition, apparent total tract digestibility, and comparison to maternal cheetah milk.
Authors: Bell KM, Rutherfurd SM, Cottam YH, Hendriks WH
Source: Zoo Biology, 2011, volume 30, issue 4