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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Palatability of Leaves of Tall Fescue and Reed Canarygrass and of Some of Their Alkaloids to Meadow Voles1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 67 No. 5, p. 667-671
    Received: Jan 10, 1975

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  1. W. A. Kendall2 and
  2. R. T. Sherwood3



The objective of these experiments was to evaluate use of meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) in a bioassay for estimating palatability of forages and some forage constituents to large animals. A small animal bioassay would enhance studies of factors affecting forage palatability and effects of palatability on animal intake. Meadow voles were provided a standard diet ad libitum and a choice of the standard diet or an experimental diet for three 30-min periods each day. Intakes of the experimental rations were used as an index to palatability.

Palatability of fresh leaves of 14 clones of reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) was negatively correlated with their total alkaloid level, in agreement with published responses of large animals. Mixtures of 0.5% gramine; 5-MeO-N, N-dimethyltryptamine; N, N-dimethyl-tryptamine; 5-methoxytryptamine-HCI, or N-monomethyl-tryptamine with the starch made the rations unpalatable. This provided direct evidence for unpalatability of the tryptamine alkaloids of reed canarygrass.

The meadow voles did not discriminate between ‘Kentucky 31,’ ‘Kenwell,’ and ‘Kenhy’ tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) when fed fresh leaves. Sheep grazed on the same material preferred Kenhy and rejected Kentucky 31. Palatability to meadow voles of fresh and dried leaves of LoliumFestuca hybrid derivatives or Festuca cultivars was not related to perloline concentration. The bioassay was not suitable for detecting the unknown factor(s) affecting palatability of rescue to sheep.

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