Sheep deficient in vitamin E preferentially select for a feed with a higher concentration of vitamin E

D. E. Amanoel, D. T. Thomas, D. Blache, J. T. B. Milton, M. G. Wilmot, D. K. Revell, H. C. Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Given the capacity of ruminants to modify diet selection based on metabolic needs, we hypothesised that, when given a choice, lambs experiencing a vitamin E deficiency would consume more of a vitamin E-enriched feed than lambs not deficient in vitamin E. Fifty-six Dohne Merino lambs were divided into two groups and fed either a vitamin E-deficient diet over 40 days to induce low plasma vitamin E or a vitamin E-enriched diet to induce high plasma vitamin E. The lambs were then offered a choice of vitamin E-enriched and vitamin E-deficient pellets. For half of the animals, the enriched diet was paired with strawberry flavour and the deficient diet was paired with orange flavour, while the reverse pairings were offered to the others. Lamb preference for the diets was measured daily for the following 15 days. There was a three-way interaction between the high and low vitamin E treatment groups x vitamin E content and type of flavour in the feed x time (days). The lambs preferred pellets flavoured with strawberry but this preference changed to orange flavour in vitamin E-deficient lambs if the orange flavour was paired with high vitamin E. Lambs without a deficiency continued to prefer strawberry-flavoured pellets, regardless of the vitamin E concentrations in the pellets. It is possible that self-learning contributed to the low vitamin E group of lambs changing preference to orange flavour in order to consume more vitamin E, presumably to remediate the deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2015


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