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Conditioned feeding responses in sheep to flavoured foods associated with sulphur doses


Hills, J and Kyriazakis, I and Nolan, JV and Hinch, GN and Lynch, JJ, Conditioned feeding responses in sheep to flavoured foods associated with sulphur doses, Animal Science, 69, (2) pp. 313-325. ISSN 1357-7298 (1999) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 1999 British Society of Animal Science

DOI: doi:10.1017/S1357729800050888


A study was conducted to determine whether sheep form conditioned flavour aversions (CFAs) or preferences (CFPs) for food flavours associated, respectively, with excessive or appropriate concentrations of sulphur (S) and also whether the rate of formation and strength of CFAs and CFPs are dependent on the animal's initial S status or the level of administration of S. In experiment 1, 48 mature ewes were conditioned to associate a new food containing a novel flavour with an infusion of S delivered intra-ruminally, or the same food containing another novel flavour with an infusion of distilled water. The same flavours were then used in experiment 2. At the end of each conditioning period, the relative preference for the two flavoured foods was determined by measuring the amount of each food ingested during a two-choice, 20-min preference test. Experiment 1 consisted of two phases. In phase 1 each conditioning period lasted for 5 days and was repeated four times, whereas in phase 2 the conditioning period lasted for 8 days and was repeated three times.

In experiment 1 the sheep were initially in an S-adequate state. In experiment 2, the sheep were re-randomized to treatments and started in an S-depleted state. The conditioning periods also lasted for 8 days and were repeated three times. There was no evidence to support the hypothesis that sheep develop CFAs or CFPs to food flavours associated with S doses in phase 1 of experiment 1. In phase 2, however, sheep formed CFAs towards the food with the flavour they had come to associate with administration of high levels of S. Repeated exposure to the flavour associated with high levels of S led to stronger aversions and there was an interaction between the S dose level and conditioning periods, indicating that the rate of development of these CFAs was highest for the highest S dose levels. The differences between results of phase 1 and 2 were probably due to the different numbers of reinforcements and different intervals between specific flavour/dose associations.

In experiment 2 there was no evidence for the development of CFPs or CFAs to food flavours associated with S doses. The apparent indifference of the sheep to S was probably due to their responding more to their previous experience of the food flavours than to their S status. Spearman rank correlations on flavour preferences indicated that conditioned flavour responses formed in experiment 1 persisted in individual sheep when they were allocated at random into their new treatments in experiment 2 and influenced or masked the formation of new associations. This demonstration of ‘carry-over’ effects highlights the importance of considering an animal’s previous experience of flavours and their associations with post-ingestive consequences when coming to conclusions concerning current development of CFAs and CFPs. These results may also have more general implications for feeding studies in animals that are randomized into treatment groups without regard to their previous feeding experiences.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:conditioning, food preferences, sulphur
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Animal production
Research Field:Animal nutrition
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Livestock raising
Objective Field:Sheep for wool
UTAS Author:Hills, J (Dr James Hills)
ID Code:120234
Year Published:1999
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2017-08-17
Last Modified:2017-09-14

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