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CitationStevens, E. J., Stevens, S. J., Gates, R. N., Eskridge, K. M., & Waller, S. S. (1987). Procedure for fecal cuticle analysis of herbivore diets. Journal of Range Management, 40(2), 187-189.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractCuticular imprints of underlying plant tissue which survive ruminant digestion in herbivore feces provide a reliable taxonomic basis for species identification provided they can be adequately prepared for microhistological analysis. Objectives of this research were to investigate the discernibility of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cuticle in sheep feces and document a procedure for fecal cuticle analysis. A completely random design with 4 replications was used with a split-plot arrangement of treatments. Diet treatments were applied to whole-plots and fecal preparation techniques were applied to subplots. Mature wethers were fed diets containing 25, 50, or 75% prebloom alfalfa hay with vegetative indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash] hay. A fecal cuticle procedure was described which established a linear relationship between dietary and fecal alfalfa contents. Under conditions where species characterized by fragile cuticle (such as alfalfa) are part of the dietary intake and diet is low in woody species, cuticle procedures may represent an alternative method for dietary composition analysis. An epidermal preparatory technique used in conjunction with fecal cuticle procedures did not establish a linear relationship between dietary and fecal alfalfa contents.