Effect of Salt Level in the Feed on Performance of Red and Fallow Weaner Deer

  • Ru, Y.J. (Livestock Systems, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Roseworthy Campus Roseworthy) ;
  • Fischer, M. (Livestock Systems, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Roseworthy Campus Roseworthy) ;
  • Glatz, P.C. (Livestock Systems, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Roseworthy Campus Roseworthy) ;
  • Bao, Y.M. (Baotou Rear Earth Research Institute)
  • Received : 2003.05.21
  • Accepted : 2004.01.26
  • Published : 2004.05.01


In Australia, many cropping areas are affected by salt. In these regions, Chenopodiaceous plants, such as Atriplex, Kochia and Bassia spp have been planted to improve soil conditions. These plants have become invaluable feed resources for grazing animals in dry summers, but have a high sodium content. To assess the impact of high salt intake on grazing deer, two experiments were conducted. The first experiment used 30 fallow weaner deer to examine the effect of salt level in the diet on feed intake, water intake and body weight of fallow deer. Salt was added to lucerne chaff at 0, 1.5, 3.0, 4.5 and 6% and fresh water was offered all the time. Increasing the salt level in the diet from 0 to 6% didn't affect feed intake, osmotic pressure and mineral concentration in blood of fallow deer. However, water intake was significantly higher (p<0.05) in deer fed diets containing more than 3% salt. Body weight was lower (p${\leq}$0.056) for fallow deer in July and August when salt content was over 3%, suggesting they can ingest over 15 g sodium/day without significant depression in both feed intake and growth rate if the fresh water is available. In the second experiment, 18 red weaner deer were fed lucerne chaff diets containing 1.5, 4.5 and 6.0% salt with 6 deer/diet. The results revealed that feed intake and blood osmotic pressure were similar (p>0.05) for red deer fed different levels of salt although the feed intake declined from 1.91 to 1.67 kg with the increase of salt level from 1.5% to 6.0% in the diet. Water intake was significantly higher for deer fed diets containing over 4.5% salt, but there was no difference in body weight during the experiment. However, no recommendation can be made on the salt tolerance of red deer due to limited increment of salt level in the diet.


Supported by : Adelaide University


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