Rumination development is vital during weaning, when kids are transitioning from a reliance on milk to hard feeds. This study analysed rumination behaviour prior to, and following, two weaning methods: abrupt milk removal, and dilution of milk with water; both are common weaning practices on farm. We hypothesised that the dilution weaning method would better prepare kids to cope with the transition to full rumination. Thirty, 13-week-old Saanen cross goat kids were housed in pens of five. Two kids were nominated, for observation, from six pens (n=6/treatment). Kids had free choice access to hay, straw, water and a pelleted ration. Rumination behaviour was continuously recorded for two 24 h periods, before weaning and after weaning. Weaning treatment had no effect on rumination behaviour, though, both daily rumination time and number of boli regurgitated increased following weaning (3.6 vs. 5±0.4 h/d, and 289 vs. 403±29 boli/day). Rumination may be unaffected by using either weaning method, provided the kids have had access to forages and are not weaned too early. Early development of rumination allows kids to cope with milk removal and the switch to solid food, and quantifying its development is important to create best practice guidelines for the weaning period.

HBR, Freeman, JR Webster, and G Zobel

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 77, Rotorua, 161-163, 2017
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