Effect of Using Ground Date Stones in Sheep Diets on the Characteristics of Barki Wool
Abstract\"Forty-eight adult Barki ewes (3-4 years old) were chosen at random from the main flock of Tagzarty station in Siwa Oasis belonging to the Desert Research Center to study the effect of replacing date stones in the common concentrate diet instead of 50% or 100 % of yellow corn on some wool characteristics of Barki sheep. All groups were offered Berseem (Trifolium alexandrnium) hay ad libitum. Animals were assigned into three equal groups (16 each) for one year. All diets were iso-nitrogenous and iso-caloric and adjusted to maintain 57.8% total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 13.1% crude protein (CP) on a dry matter basis and classified into three treatments; T1 offered a control diet containing 43% yellow corn, 22% cotton seed meal, 20% wheat bran, 12% rice bran, 1.5% lime stone, 1% salt and 0.5% premix. The T2 and T3 diets containing date stones at the level of 50% and 100%, respectively. After annual shearing, greasy fleece weight was recorded and wool from a 10 cm2 patch on the left mid-side position were taken from each animal. Results showed that the wool production from 10 cm2 patches from the mid-side position was strongly correlated (r=0.80) to greasy fleece weight (GFW). Nutritional treatments had no significant effect on fibre diameter and its standard deviation, point of break either by weight or length, bulk and resilience. However, the T2 group had a higher yield, medulated fiber percentage and staple length compared to the control group. Staple strength was 50 % (39.1 Vs. 26.1 N/ktex) and 29% (33.6 Vs. 26.1 N/ktex) higher in the T2 and T3 treatments respectively, compared to the control group, while T2 was 16% (39.1 Vs. 33.6 N/ktex) higher than T3. Sulfur in the blood followed the same trend; it was 3.7 and 4.3 times higher for T2 and T3, respectively compared to the control group. Ground date stones can replace yellow corn up to 100% without any adverse effects on body weight and wool production. Date Stones tended to increase the clean fleece weight as well as staple strength compared with Yellow Corn. Replacing yellow corn with Date Stones can save about two-third on the price of Yellow Corn in the diet.\"