The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of diet and animal shearing on the feed and nutrient intakes, water intake, in vitro ruminal methane production, and blood parameters of Omani sheep. A pens trial was carried out for 16 days each in March and June of 2017 using 20 Omani non-castrated yearling rams selected from the sheep herd in the research station and randomly assigned to four groups with 5 animals per group. Group 1: sheared animals fed a high concentrate (HC) diet, group 2: fleeced animals fed a HC diet, group 3: sheared animals fed a low concentrate (LC) diet, group 4: fleeced animals fed a LC diet. Furthermore, a metabolic crates trial was carried out in July of 2017 on three animals from each group over a 10-day period. The effect of diet and shearing on the tested parameters was evaluated using the mixed linear model, where animals were fitted as a random effect to account for the individual animal deviation from the overall mean. Results showed that rams fed on the high concentrate diet had a significantly increased organic matter intake of the total diet (62 g/kg 0.75 Live Weight (LW) in HC group to 54 g/kg 0.75 LW in LC group), an increased water intake (6.3 L/day vs 4.8 L/day in LC group), and a reduced in vitro methane production (i.e. the invitro ruminal CH4 was measured and converted to daily CH4 using the daily feed intake data and was 20.4 g CH4 per head/day in HC group vs 27.3 g CH4 per head/day in LC group), compared with rams fed on the low concentrate diet. Furthermore, shearing had a significant effect (P < 0.01) on increased feed and nutrients intake. The apparent and organic matter digestibility was significantly different (P < 0.01) between the experimental groups and was greater for those rams fed on the HC diet. Partial substitution of low-quality Rhodes grass hay by high-quality concentrate significantly improved the total diet organic matter digestibility (P < 0.01) and nutrients digestibility, whereas no significant effects on biochemical blood parameters or animal health were observed. These results show the importance of utilizing effective feeding and shearing plans to improve the productivity and reduce the methane emission of Omani sheep.
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