Effects of ruminant digestion on germination of Lehmann lovegrass seed

TitleEffects of ruminant digestion on germination of Lehmann lovegrass seed
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsFredrickson E.L., Estell R.E., Havstad K, Ksiksi T., VanTol J., Remmenga M.D.
JournalJournal of Range Management
Date PublishedJanuary 1, 1997
KeywordsEragrostis lehmanniana, in vitro digestibility, introduced species, mastication, rumen fermentation, seed dispersal, Seed germination, seeds, selective grazing, sheep, sheep dung

Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana Nees) seed (germination 96%, dormant 0%) was used in 4 experiments to study the potential of sheep as a dispersal agent. Five, 4-year-old, ruminally cannulated wethers were used to examine effects of ruminant digestion on seed recovery and germination. All wethers were ruminally evacuated, and rumens were cleansed and reinoculated with strained ruminal fluid. After a 21-day adaptation to pelleted alfalfa, 4 experiments were conducted. Experiment 1 was designed to test viability of Lehmann lovegrass seeds exposed to ruminal and postruminal digestion. Lehmann lovegrass seed (10 g) was dosed intra-ruminally via ruminal fistula, and total fecal collections made. Of the viable seed ruminally dosed, 37% germinated within 21 days after recovery. Also, 98 to 100% of the seed that germinated was recovered within 72 hours of dosing. Experiment 2 was designed to test the influence of ruminal microbial digestion on seed degradation and viability, using in sacco nylon bag techniques. In sacco dry matter disappearance increased linearly from 5.5% at 3 hours of incubation to 16 % at 120 hours. Germination of seed was not greatly affected until after 72 hours of ruminal incubation. Experiment 3 was designed to examine the effect of mastication on viability of Lehmann lovegrass seeds. Seeds were mixed with seed-free Lehmann lovegrass straw in a proportion of 1 to 10 (seed to straw) and 10 g fed to each wether. Boli were recovered manually via ruminal fistula. Thirty five percent of the seed fed entered the rumen without damage due to mastication. Experiment 4 compared in vitro techniques and in sacco techniques used to estimate the effect of digestion on seed viability. In vitro incubation techniques yielded similar results as in sacco techniques. We conclude that ruminants are potential disseminating agents of Lehmann lovegrass seed.