Three types of ceramic mini-boluses, B1 [13.8 g; 10.5 × 51.0 mm (o.d. × length)], B2 (16.2 g; 12.2 × 42.2 mm), and B3 (20.1 g; 11.2 × 56.4 mm), were used to electronically identify as soon as possible after birth a total of 545 lambs of 3 breeds: Ripollesa (meat breed, n = 274), Manchega (dairy breed, n = 129), and Lacaune (dairy breed, n = 142). Boluses were administered by a trained operator using a balling gun or directly by hand. Lambs were also identified with 2 types of plastic ear tags in the left (temporary, 1.5 g) and the right (permanent, 4.1 g) ears. Lamb and identification device performances were checked during suckling (to wk 5 or 7) and fattening. At 24 kg of BW, lambs were slaughtered (n = 385) or kept for breeding (n = 144). No differences in performance were observed between the 2 dairy breeds, and their data were pooled. Minimum BW for bolus administration was lower in dairy than in meat lambs (P < 0.001). Across breeds, B1 and B3 did not differ in lamb age (27 d) and weight (9.2 kg) at administration, but B2 required older and heavier lambs (33 d and 11.1 kg; P < 0.01). Boluses did not affect lamb performance, but final readability at slaughter differed between B1 and B2 (97.7 and 95.2%, respectively) and B3 (100%), and between ear tags (temporary, 98.1; permanent, 100%). Bolus recovery was 100% in all cases, but the proportion of boluses found in the reticulum varied among bolus type (83.3 to 93.8%; P < 0.05). Three B1 (2%) were recovered from the abomasum. In a second experiment, effects of the intermediate mini-bolus (B2) on diet digestibility were evaluated. Digestibility of control and bolus-administered, Manchega ram lambs (14.9 kg of BW; n = 8) fed ad libitum with 2 pelleted concentrates and barley straw was assessed in digestibility crates. Feed intake and nutrient digestibility were measured in four 21-d periods, during which lambs received the 2 diets consecutively. No differences in intake, growth performance, or nutrient digestibility were observed between control and bolused lambs. In conclusion, the B3 mini-bolus proved to be an efficient device for identification of lambs before weaning (recommended age, >4 wk; recommended BW, >10 kg), allowing a reliable traceability of dairy and meat lambs until slaughter. © 2007 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
- Electronic identification
- Rumen bolus