A mechanistic model for predicting the nutrient requirements and feed biological values for sheep

J Anim Sci. 2004 Jan;82(1):149-69. doi: 10.2527/2004.821149x.


The Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS), a mechanistic model that predicts nutrient requirements and biological values of feeds for cattle, was modified for use with sheep. Published equations were added for predicting the energy and protein requirements of sheep, with a special emphasis on dairy sheep, whose specific needs are not considered by most sheep-feeding systems. The CNCPS for cattle equations that are used to predict the supply of nutrients from each feed were modified to include new solid and liquid ruminal passage rates for sheep, and revised equations were inserted to predict metabolic fecal N. Equations were added to predict fluxes in body energy and protein reserves from BW and condition score. When evaluated with data from seven published studies (19 treatments), for which the CNCPS for sheep predicted positive ruminal N balance, the CNCPS for sheep predicted OM digestibility, which is used to predict feed ME values, with no mean bias (1.1 g/100 g of OM; P > 0.10) and a low root mean squared prediction error (RMSPE; 3.6 g/100 g of OM). Crude protein digestibility, which is used to predict N excretion, was evaluated with eight published studies (23 treatments). The model predicted CP digestibility with no mean bias (-1.9 g/100 g of CP; P > 0.10) but with a large RMSPE (7.2 g/100 g of CP). Evaluation with a data set of published studies in which the CNCPS for sheep predicted negative ruminal N balance indicated that the model tended to underpredict OM digestibility (mean bias of -3.3 g/100 g of OM, P > 0.10; RMSPE = 6.5 g/100 g of OM; n = 12) and to overpredict CP digestibility (mean bias of 2.7 g/100 g of CP, P > 0.10; RMSPE = 12.8 g/100 g of CP; n = 7). The ability of the CNCPS for sheep to predict gains and losses in shrunk BW was evaluated using data from six studies with adult sheep (13 treatments with lactating ewes and 16 with dry ewes). It accurately predicted variations in shrunk BW when diets had positive N balance (mean bias of 5.8 g/d; P > 0.10; RMSPE of 30.0 g/d; n = 15), whereas it markedly overpredicted the variations in shrunk BW when ruminal balance was negative (mean bias of 53.4 g/d, P < 0.05; RMSPE = 84.1 g/d; n = 14). These evaluations indicated that the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System for Sheep can be used to predict energy and protein requirements, feed biological values, and BW gains and losses in adult sheep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Digestion / physiology
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sheep / growth & development
  • Sheep / metabolism
  • Sheep / physiology*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Nitrogen