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Effects of rice bran and sesame seed cake mixtures on feed intake and weight gain of Begait sheep supplemented for grass hay

Kibrom Gebremedhin, Mengistu Urge2 and Zelalem Tesfay1

Livestock research core-process, Shire-Maitsebri Agricultural Research Center, Shire-Endasilassie, Ethiopia
1 Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, Mekelle, Ethiopia
2 Postgraduate Programs Directorate, Haramaya University, Haramaya, Ethiopia


The study was conducted to evaluate the effects of rice bran and sesame seedcake mixtures on feed intake and body weight gains of Begait sheep fed grass hay as basal diet. Twenty-five yearling Begait sheep rams with the initial body weight of 26.9 ± 0.75 kg (Mean ± SE) were used in a randomized complete block design. Animals were blocked into five feeding regimes i.e. hay alone (CTL), hay plus 300g rice bran and sesame seedcake mixture (RBSS) (C300), 350g RBSS (C350), 400g RBSS (C400), and 450g RBSS (C450). The study comprised 90 days of feeding trial followed by 7 days of digestibility trial. Feed intake, digestibility and weight gain were increased as the amount of concentrate supplementation increased. However, digestibility, daily gain and feed conversion efficiency were similar between 400 g and 450 g levels of supplementation. Therefore, supplementing mixture of 300g rice bran and 100g sesame seedcake to natural gray hay can result in a better economical and biological performance on Begait sheep.

Keywords: crude protein, digestibility, dry matter intake, rice bran, supplementation, weight gain


Sheep play an important role in smallholder farmers of Ethiopia. They are reared for various products and services including a source of food (meat and milk), skin, manure, cash and as living a bank (Notenbaert et al 2009; FAO 2010). Although the total sheep population hits 28.9 million (CSA 2016) their productivity and contribution to the producers is low. This low production and productivity is attributed to a number of factors (Yayneshet 2010) even if feed shortage takes the largest share (Solomon et al 2010). Most of the sheep are reared in a mixed crop-livestock production system in the country and they are dependent on grazing degraded rangelands and crop residues (Solomon et al 2010; Zelealem and Anil 2013). Inadequate knowledge and technologies on utilizing locally available feed resources in diets of animals is also mentioned (Sebsibe 2008). Thus proper nutrition is necessary to increase sheep productivity (FAO 2011).

Begait sheep breed is widely produced by smallholder farmers in the mixed‐crop livestock farming systems of western and northwestern Tigrai, northern Ethiopia. They are characterized by large frame body size, high fecundity rate, and well adapted to arid and semi-arid tropical conditions (Zelealem and Anil 2013). Nowadays, farmer’s acceptance and practice on rice and sesame farming is increasing in Tigrai region. Thus, around 11.5 thousand ton of rice grain is annually produced in northwestern Tigrai (TDOARD 2016); and milling of 100 kg of paddy (rice as harvested from the field) yields 10-12% of rice bran (Kahlon 2009). Accordingly, 1156 - 1387 ton of rice bran can be produced in the area though it is not utilized efficiently. Similarly, around 8545 ton of sesame seed is annually produced in the area (CSA 2015). Yayneshet (2010) found the practice of local oil extraction from sesame seed using camel. This practice annually produces around 9.22 tons of cake (traditionally called “Ashera”) a byproduct from more than 1200 registered small-scale oil processors of the area. Sesame seedcake was characterized by higher protein content and the capacity in improving feed conversion efficiency, growth performance and carcass quality of sheep (Hassen et al 2013). Hence, to maximize the production potential of the sheep breed and enhance animal productivity, ameliorate feed shortage, and utilization of various feed resources found at the farmer level, such as sesame seed cake and rice bran is imperative and an important strategy. Therefore, the study was conducted to evaluate the effects of rice bran and sesame seedcake mixtures on feed intake and growth performance of Begait sheep fed grass has as basal diet.

Materials and methods

The research was conducted at Shire-Maitsebri agricultural research center in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, located on 13 0C 05’ N latitude and 38 0C 08’E longitude and at 1300 meters above sea level. The average annual temperature was between 18 -380C, and the mean annual rainfall ranges between 758 and 1100mm.

Rice bran (RB) and sesame seedcake (SSC) were purchased from rice processing cooperatives and local sesame oil extractors, respectively and mixed in 3 to 1 ratio of rice bran and sesame seedcake (i.e. 74% RB and 25% SSC with 1% salt).

Table 1. Formulation of experimental feeds







Ad libitum

Ad libitum

Ad libitum

Ad libitum

Ad libitum

Concentrate mixture (g)






Twenty-five yearling intact male Begait sheep were blocked into five blocks of five animals based on their initial body weight and placed in an individual pen. Sheep within a block were randomly assigned to the five dietary treatments. After the animals were acclimatized (adapted) to the experimental diets and pens, feeding trial was conducted for 90 days. Feed offered and refused, and fecal output were recorded daily. Initial and final body weights of each experimental sheep were taken at the beginning and end of the experiment in the morning before feeding. Daily weight gain was calculated as the ration of body weight gain (g) to number of feeding days (90). Feed conversion efficiency was calculated as the ratio of daily live weight gain (g) to total dry matter intake of the animal in grams. At the end of feeding trial, all sheep were tied with fecal collection bag to collect the fecal sample for 7 days. Collated samples were ground to pass 1mm sieve and stored in airtight plastic bags for chemical analysis at Haramaya university animal nutrition laboratory. Ash and crude protein (CP) was analyzed according to the procedures of (AOAC 1990). The neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) of each feed and fecal sample were analyzed according to the procedure described by (VanSoest, and Robertson 1985). Estimates of the energy value of experimental feeds were made according to McDonald et al (2010) as metabolizable energy (ME, MJ/kg) = 0.016 x DOMD; where DOMD = Digestible OM intake (gram) per kilogram DM. The digestibility coefficient (DC) was calculated as follows:

The collected data were analyzed using one-way ANOVA of SAS (2008). The presence of significant differences among treatment groups were checked using Least Significant Difference (LSD), and significance is reported at p <0.05.


The feed types used for experiment had (rice bran and sesame seed cake) had a considerable amount of CP which can support growth of the animals. The NDF and ADF composition of the diets were different with higher values for hay followed by rice bran.

Table 2. Chemical composition of experimental diets (% of DM)










Rice bran





Sesame seed cake





ADF = Acid Detergent Fiber; CP = Crude Protein; NDF = Neutral Detergent Fiber

Higher total dry matter intake was recorded in animals that received higher amount of concentrate mixture. The CP intake increased with increasing level of concentrate supplementation and sheep in the fifth treatment were superior to other treatments groups since the concentrate was readily consumed at all levels (p <0.05). The ME intake was greater ( p < 0.05) for the supplemented group than the control, and it was increased (p <0.05) as the amount of supplemented concentrate is increasing, although it is similar among 400g and 450g.

Table 3. The effects of concentrate mixture on feed and nutrients intake








Hay intake, g/day








DM intake, g/day








CP intake, g/day








ME, MJ/day








a-e mean values in a row with different superscripts differ significantly at p<005;
ME = Metabolizable energy; MJ = mega joule

Rice bran and sesame seed cake supplementation had a positive influence on DM and CP digestibility (p <0.05). Supplementation of 400 g concentrate mixture improved digestibility of DM and CP by 43.1% and 31.6%, respectively from the control group. However, 450 g concentrate mixture supplementation had resulted almost similar results of digestibility (42.5% DM and 31.6% CP improvements) with the preceding treatment.

Table 4. Mean values for apparent digestibility of diets
































a-d mean values in a row with different superscripts differ significantly at p<005

The higher CP intake of with increasing amount of concentrate was reflected with superior daily weight gain of the animals. Final body weight, daily weight gain, and feed conversion efficiency were improved by supplementing mixtures of rice bran and sesame seedcake (Table 5). Animals in 4 th and 5th treatments i.e. supplemented with 400g and 450g had similar body weight gain (p > 0.05). Feed conversion efficiency was improved (p <0.05) by supplementation which increased by almost fivefold (Control vs. 400g).

Table 5. The effects of concentrate mixture on daily weight gain and feed conversion








Initial body weight, kg








Final body weight, kg








Average daily gain, g








FCE, daily DMI/ADG








a-d mean values in a row with different superscripts differ significantly at p<005;
ADG = average daily gain; DMI = dry matter intake; FCE = feed conversion efficiency

Figure 1. Effect of rice bran and sesame seed cake mixture on dry matter intake, daily weight gains and feed conversion efficiency of Begait sheep, respectively


The CP content of sesame seedcake was within the range of 23 - 46% established by FAO (1990) for sesame seedcake. But, different authors reported lower CP composition of sesame seedcake compared to the current result (Omar 2002; Fagbenro et al 2010). This confirmed the impacts of extraction methods and adulteration on CP content of sesame cake (Berhanu et al 2009). The increased level of concentrate supplementation can be attributed to higher amount of protein which determines dry matter intake of ruminants through improving number of rumen micro-organisms. Similarly, previous works noted increment in daily dry matter intake and forage utilization as dietary protein supplementation increases (Köster et al 1996; Ebrahimi et al 2007; Getahun 2014). A Meta-analysis by Riaz et al (2014) also showed the positive effects of protein on dry matter intake of all ruminant species. The amount of ME intake by the control group was marginal, but it was greater in all the supplemented groups as compared to ME established to be required (7.0 to 8.5 MJ/day) for maintenance and growth of a 30 kg sheep with a daily weight gain of 50 - 100 g (ARC 1980). Apparent digestibility of dry matter and protein were improved as the amount of concentrate supplementation level increases. This improvement in digestibility could be a function of increased CP availability to rumen micro-organisms which help them to increase their mass that results in attacking and digesting more fibrous feeds (McDonald et al 2002). This finding is in agreement with the report by Matiwos et al (2008) that digestibility of organic matter and CP were improved with increment in protein supplementation from cottonseed meal in Sidama goats. But, animals supplemented with 400 g and 450 g concentrate mixture had similar results of digestibility, which indicate offering 400g concentrate per a day could be enough to achieve efficient feed digestibility.

Rams with higher protein intake had superior daily weight gain since fast growing animals demand more nutrients to satisfy their requirement. Similar to this finding, superior weight gains of animals with higher protein intake were observed from reports of Aschalew (2011) on Farta sheep, and Abraham (2015) on Begait sheep supplemented with concentrate feeds. The comparable weight gains of animals on 400g and 450g could be due to the conversion of excess protein i.e. above the synthesis capacity of rumen micro-organisms to ammonia to be excreted in the form of urea and then urine (McDonald et al 2002). In addition, excess amino acids above the body requirement may be deaminated producing keto-acids that are oxidized and converted to energy (McDonald et al 2002; Freer et al 2007) and becomes an inefficient source of energy (NRC 1985). This indicates Begait sheep can be more efficient in supplementing mixtures of 300g rice bran and 100g sesame seedcake.



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