Title: Relationship of mineral elements in sheep grazing in the highland agro-ecosystem
Authors: Qingshan Fan, Zhaofeng Wang, Shenghua Chang, Zechen Peng, Metha Wanapat, Saman Bowatte, Fujiang Hou*
Journal: Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences（农林科学4区）
Impact Factor: IF2017= 1.243
Objective: Minerals are one of the important nutrients for supporting the growth of sheep grazing in the highland, northeast of China. The experiment was conducted to investigate the relationship of both macro and micro minerals in sheep grazing in the highlands of six districts located in the Qilian Mountain of China. Methods: Samples of herbage (n=240) and soil (n=240) were collected at random in a “W” shape across the area designated for harvesting from 24 farms, where the sheep commonly graze in October (winter) for mineral analyses. In addition, serum samples were taken via jugular vein from 20 sheep per farm from 24 farms (n=480 samples in total) for serum minerals analyses. Mean values of macro and micro minerals were statistically compared among districts and the correlations among soil-plant-animal were statistically analyzed and correlations were regressed, as well. Results: The results revealed that there were variations for both macro and micro minerals among districts. Statistical analysis of the correlation coefficients between herbage and sheep were significantly different for most of the minerals but not for P, Cu, and Se. Many correlation regression coefficients were found significantly different among minerals of herbage, soil, and sheep serum especially those of K, Na, Fe, Mn, and Zn (between herbage and sheep serum), and Fe and Mn (between herbage and soil), Na, Fe, Mn, and Zn (between soil and sheep serum), respectively. The regression coefficient equations derived under this experiment for prediction of Ca (R2=0.618), K (R2=0.803), Mg (R2=0.767), Na (R2=0.670), Fe (R2=0.865), Zn (R2=0.950), Mn (R2=0.936), and Se (R2=0.630), resulted in significant R2 values. Conclusion: It is inferred that the winter herbage minerals in all the districts were below the recommended levels for macro minerals which indicated there would be some mineral deficiencies in sheep grazing the herbage in these regions. Supplemental minerals may therefore play an important role in balancing the minerals available from the herbage in winter and would lead to increased productivity in sheep on the highland areas of China. These findings could be potentially applied to the other regions for improving the livestock productivity.