British Journal of Nutrition

Animal Nutrition

Preference for flavoured foods by lambs conditioned with intraruminal administration of nitrogen

Juan J. Villalbaa1 and Frederick D. Provenzaa1

a1 Department of Rangeland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322-5230, USA


We suggested that food preference depends on the interplay between flavour and post-ingestive effects, and we predicted that protein-restricted lambs would acquire preferences for foods paired with supplemental sources of N, including urea (Expts 1 and 2), casein (Expt 3), and gluten (Expt 4). In each experiment, twenty lambs, in two groups of ten, were conditioned as follows: on odd-numbered days, lambs in group 1 received wheat straw (Expts 1, 3, and 4) or ground barley (Expt 2) flavoured with a distinctive flavour, and lambs in group 2 received the same food but with a different flavour. On even-numbered days, flavours were switched and lambs received capsules containing different amounts of urea (ranging from 0.12 to 0.92 g N/d), casein (ranging from 0.23 to 0.69 g N/d), or gluten (ranging from 0.23 to 0.69 g N/d). After conditioning periods of 8 d, lambs were given a two-choice test to determine preference for flavours paired with N. In Expts 1 and 2, lambs preferred the flavours conditioned with urea at lower doses (0.12 g N/d in Expt 1. 0.23 and 0.46 g N/d in Expt 2), but they avoided the flavour associated with urea at the highest dose (0.23 g N/d in Expt 1 and 0.92 g N/d in Expt 2). In Expts 3 and 4, lambs avoided the flavours associated with the lowest doses of casein or gluten (0.23 g N/d), but they preferred the flavours paired with casein or gluten at higher doses (0.46 and 0.69 g N/d). After conditioning, N administrations were suspended and lambs in Expts 3 and 4 were offered a choice of the two flavours at weekly intervals for 2 weeks (extinction); preferences persisted during extinction. Collectively, these results suggest that the post-ingestive effects of N in different forms and concentrations influenced the development of food preferences by lambs.

(Received December 02 1996)

(Revised March 19 1997)

(Accepted April 17 1997)