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Last update: May 2021

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Feed x Animal

This first level of interface between plant resources and the animals that valorize these resources, is essential as it largely determines the efficiency of their use. Moreover, at this level, individuality manifests itself strongly, through both feeding behavior and personality.

The feeding behavior allows the understanding of the strategies of ruminants facing a same ration and is a key determinant of the individual variations. The bite mass, the number of visits to the feed trough, the amount eaten per visit and the meal duration are decisive parameters, for intake and efficiency (Kondo et al, 2011; Johnston and DeVries, 2018). The feeding behavior of ruminants, in particular their chewing activity, depends largely on the fibrosity of their diet, determining largely the level of intake and the digestive processes of the rumen (recycling of salivary elements, particle traffic, transit, motricity…). Feeding behavior also affects the efficiency of fermentations and the profiles of nutrients absorbed, which affect furthermore nutrient allocation. These effects on ruminal digestion have repercussions on metabolic disorders such as acidosis (Giger-Reverdin, 2013).

At this Feed-Animal level of organization, we plan to develop our approaches:

- to identify the characteristics of the resources (intra or inter-species) to optimize intake and digestibility, and consequently the digestive and metabolic efficiencies. Ruminants are able to adapt to a wide variety of resources, which is an essential aspect of their robustness. It will therefore be necessary to assess the animal behavior facing diversity of resources: fibrosity, concentration in energy or protein.

-to evaluate and model i) how the animal adapt its feeding behavior facing diverse characteristics of the resources and ii) the consequences of various strategies of feeding behavior, on intake, digestion and digestibility

-to assess the relationships between animal personality and feeding behavior, with implications for the efficiency of resources acquisition and performance