Resting and field metabolic rates of Awassi sheep and Baladi goats raised by Negev bedouin

Michael Kam, Shaher El-Meccawi, Arieh Brosh, A. Allan Degen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sheep are grazers and goats are intermediate feeders. By employing O2 consumption and heart rate measurements, resting metabolic rate (RMR) and field metabolic rate (FMR) were determined in four male fat-tailed Awassi sheep (44.0 ± 3.94) and four male Baladi goats (35.5 ± 5.42 kg) that were co-grazing natural pasture in the Negev Desert. There were 67.7 ± 3.75 g DM/mof herbaceous vegetation biomass, which was rapidly becoming senescent and more fibrous. We hypothesized that FMR of these desert-adapted ruminants would be relatively low when compared to other sheep and goat breeds, as animals in arid areas tend to have low metabolic rates. Both sheep (n = 6) and goats (n = 6) foraged 71% of the allotted 11 h free-pasture period; however, sheep grazed more than goats (P < 0.001); whereas goats browsed more than sheep (P < 0.001). RMR was higher (P = 0.007) in sheep than in goats (529 ± 23.5 v. 474 ± 25.4 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d), but FMR did not differ between species (618 ± 55.7 v. 613 ± 115.2 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d). In addition, the cost of activities, as a proportion of FMR, did not differ between sheep and goats; FMR increased by 89 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d or 17% in sheep and by 138 kJ/kg0.75 BW/d or 29% in goats. In comparing FMRs of sheep and goats in this study with these species in other studies, differences were inconsistent and, therefore, our hypothesis was not supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-437
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Field metabolic rate
  • goats
  • heart rate
  • resting metabolic rate
  • sheep


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