The Journal of Agricultural Science

Research Article

A study of feeding types and certain rumen functions in six species of South African wild ruminants

D. Gieseckea1 and N. O. Van Gylswyka2

a1 Institut für Tierphysiologie, Universität München, D-8000 München, Veterinärstrasse 13, Germany

a2 National Chemical Research Laboratory, South African Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, P.O. Box 395, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, 0001


In order to characterize the rumen digestive physiology of South African wild ruminants investigations were made on a total of 35 individuals of six species killed in various regions during the dry season.

In buffalo, blue wildebeest and gemsbok grasses constituted 85–100% and in impala, springbok and kuduless than 10% of the diet. In the case of the latter three species effects of the habitat and of predilection for certain plant materials were apparent.

Compared with the grazers, the species feeding mainly on plant material other than grass were characterized by a smaller physiological capacity of the rumen reticulum, higher counts of ciliate protozoa and ‘large bacteria’, higher levels of rumen ammonia and higher molar proportions of rumen propionate and valerate. Within these feeding types differences between species were indicated.

(Received November 22 1974)