Performance and digestibility of growing sheep fed with açai seed meal-based diets.
ABSTRACT This trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of açai seeds in the diet of sheep, specifically, to evaluate the intake, digestibility, and weight gain in sheep that are fed with diets containing four different mixtures of açai seeds and coastcross hay. Sixteen noncastrated male sheep with an average initial body weight of 22 kg were randomly assigned to one of four diet treatments using initial body weight as a covariate. The diets used coastcross hay as the basal roughage in a 60:40 roughage/concentrate ratio. The concentrate was the same in all the treatments. The açai seed was added to the diet as a partial substitute for the coastcross hay to make up four diet treatments: 0 (control), 5, 10, and 15 % açaí added to the diet on a dry matter basis. The daily weight gain, final body weight, and feed intake were found to linearly increase with the increase in added dietary açai seed meal (P < 0.05). Moreover, increasing the proportions of açai seed meal did not significantly alter the nutrient tract digestibility, except that the crude protein level declined in a linear manner. The inclusion of açai seed as a substitute for coastcross hay increases the intake and the daily weight gain in sheep that are fed with diets using coastcross hay as the basal roughage in a 60:40 roughage/concentrate ratio.