Effects of bentonite on wool growth and nitrogen metabolism in fauna-free and faunated sheep

J Anim Sci. 1992 Oct;70(10):3194-202. doi: 10.2527/1992.70103194x.


Two experiments were carried out with sheep that originated from a fauna-free flock and were fed a soybean meal-corn silage diet with or without a bentonite supplement. One-half of the sheep fed each diet in each experiment were faunated with a mixed population of ruminal protozoa, whereas the other half of the sheep remained fauna-free until the end of both experiments. Wool growth and daily gain were measured in Exp. 1. (eight rams per treatment), which lasted 110 d, and the metabolic effects in the rumen and intestinal tract of protozoa and dietary bentonite supplement were tested with cannulated wethers (four wethers per treatment) in Exp. 2. The results of Exp. 1 showed decreased wool growth (P less than .05) due to the presence of protozoa in the rumen. Dietary supplementation with bentonite partly offset the decreased wool growth in sheep with protozoa, but there were no effects of dietary bentonite and no protozoa x bentonite interaction (P greater than .05). Daily gain was decreased by the dietary bentonite (P less than .05) supplement but was not affected (P greater than .05) by the ruminal presence of protozoa. In Exp. 2, protozoa increased (P less than .01) the ruminal concentrations of ammonia and decreased (P less than .05) the acetic:propionic acid molar ratio. Fractionation of N in the duodenal digesta flowing from the stomach to the small intestine showed that protozoa decreased (P less than .05) the flow of nonammonia N and bacterial N, and there was a protozoa x bentonite interaction for these effects (P less than .05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bentonite / pharmacology*
  • Eating
  • Eukaryota / physiology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Rumen / chemistry
  • Rumen / parasitology
  • Sheep / metabolism
  • Sheep / parasitology
  • Sheep / physiology*
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Weight Gain
  • Wool / growth & development*


  • Amino Acids
  • Bentonite
  • Nitrogen