Kearney CC, Hall MB, Ball RL. 2003. Variation in voluntary intake of feeds by captive giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis): Implications for meeting nutrient requirements. In Ward A, Brooks M, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Minneapolis, MN.
Data prompting evaluation of captive giraffe feed selection were obtained from a modified reversal study investigating the effects of dietary physical form and carbohydrate profile. Six non-lactating adult female giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) were used in seven 21-day periods. Supplements were: an experimental non-pelleted browser supplement (EF) and a mixture of 75% Mazuri Browser Breeder (PMI Nutrition International, LLC, Brentwood, MO) and 25% Omelene 200 (Ralston Purina Co., St. Louis, MO) (GF). Individually housed giraffe were offered ad libitum alfalfa hay, water, salt, and one supplement in each period. Intake of individual feeds was measured days 15 through 21. Average daily as-fed intake as a percentage of body weight (BW) varied widely for total intake (0.77% to 1.85% BW), alfalfa hay (0% to
0.67% BW), and supplement (0.54% to 1.60% BW). Hay to supplement intake ratios did not exceed 40:60. Review of additional giraffe intake studies revealed further evidence of individual animal variation. Animal-selected intakes differed from Nutrition Advisory Group recommendations for feeding (2% BW) and hay to supplement ratio (60:40 to 70:30). Physically effective fiber (peNDF), typically obtained from forage or browse, maintains chewing activity and ruminal pH. Intake of low peNDF and high concentrate ] proportions may negatively affect feed intake, diet digestibility, and animal health. To minimize potential negative effects of individual feed selection, blending all feedstuffs together in a form to minimize selection and facilitate intake of a balanced ration including peNDF should perhaps be considered for captive giraffe.