The Effects of ZINC on the In Vitro Digestibility of Feeds in Cervids



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The captive white-tailed deer industry has an estimated impact of $1.6 billion, annually. However, nutritional requirements for cervids are determined through research based on sheep and goats. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of zinc on differences in dry matter digestibility in vitro for white-tailed does (Odocoileus virginianus). Deer (n=2) were harvested ethically, rumens were collected, and placed into a cooler containing warm water. Rumen contents were agitated, and fluid was filtered using cheese cloth while applying CO2. Fluid was placed into four separate incubator jars with filter bags containing a 1:1 alfalfa to coastal hay blend. Zinc doses of 0.073 mg/kg/d equivalents were added to two of the jars (treatments), and the additional two jars received 0.00 mg/kg/d (control). Following 48 h of incubation, in vitro true digestibility (IVTD) showed no significant differences between the control and the treatment groups. Average dry matter digested in vitro was 91.87% and 95.13%, respectfully. There were no differences detected in ADF, NDF, IVTD, or OM between the treatment groups. While no detectable differences were observed in this study, this methodology did prove to be viable and functional for microbial digestion in vitro. This study can be replicated with multiple experimental units to confirm the observations of increased digestibility. Formal nutritional guidelines can be created to allow for more efficient feeding of cervids. In turn, reducing feed costs for the operation and continue the growth of the captive deer industry.



Agriculture, Animal Culture and Nutrition