Evaluation of onions as a feed source for growing wethers

TitleEvaluation of onions as a feed source for growing wethers
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsEstell RE, Fredrickson E.L., Havstad K, Shupe, W. Larry, Saar L.J.
Conference NameJournal of Animal Science
Date Published1993
Keywordsfeed source, onions, wethers
AbstractA study was conducted to evaluate cull onions as a feed source for growing wethers. An additional objective was to assess toxicity of dietary onions. Fifty-six polypay x rambouillet wethers (average initial BW of 33 kg) were randomly assigned to one of four dietary treatments: (1) 50% whole sorghum grain (CON), (2) 33% sorghum: 17% onions (17%), (3) 17% sorghum: 33% onions (33%), and (4) 50% onions (50%). The remaining 50% of the diet (DM basis) was pelleted alfalfa (19% CP). All wethers were pen fed (7 wethers/pan) and treatments were replicated. Each diet was fed for 6 weeks following a 3-week adaptation period to the control diet. Serum was obtained at the end of weeks 0, 1, 3, and 6 to obtain a serum clinical profile (SMAC-25). Body weight did not differ (P > .05) among treatments during the trial. Average gaily gain tended (P = 0.057) to be lower for the 33 and 50% treatments during weeks 1 and 2 but did not differ (P > .05) from CON during the remainder of the trial (over all ADG are .13, .17, .14, and .11 kg/d for CON, 17, 33, and 50% treatments, respectively). Packed cell volume tended to be less (P = .057) for 33 and 50% groups during weeks 1 and 2 and was less (P < .0001) for the same groups during week 3 (34, 33, 29, and 29% for CON, 17, 33, and 50%, respectively). Differences in PCV among treatments were not detected (P > .05) for weeks 4, 5, or 6. Serum LDH was elevated (P < .05) for weeks 3 and 6 in sheep eating diets of 33 or 50% onions. We conclude that under the conditions of this study, onions can be fed safely to sheep and support weight gains similar to those from sorghum grain.