Evaluating raw meat diets for captive carnivores

The study's objective was to evaluate raw meat diets for captive exotic and domestic carnivores containing traditional and alternative raw meat sources; specifically, beef trimmings, bison trimmings, elk muscle meat and horse trimmings.

It aimed to examine diet composition and protein quality; apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility in domestic cats, African wildcats, jaguars and Malayan tigers, and ME and fecal fermentative end-products in domestic cats. Because of variation in the meat sources, dietary proximate, AA, and long-chain fatty acid composition were variable. Analyses indicated that all diets had essential fatty acid deficiencies, and the elk diet (i.e., trimmed muscle meat) was deficient in total fat. All diets were highly digestible (88% to 89% OM digestibility).

In domestic cats, the fresh fecal pH and proportions of acetate and butyrate were altered (P ≤ 0.05) due to diet. Diet also affected (P ≤ 0.05) fresh fecal concentrations of total branched-chain fatty acids, valerate, and Lactobacillus genus.

In conclusion, although the raw meat diets were highly digestible, because of variation in raw meat sources the nutrient composition of the diets was variable. Thus, compositional analysis of raw meat sources is necessary for proper diet formulation. The types of meat commonly used in raw meat diets may be deficient in total fat and essential fatty acids. Additionally, differences in raw meat source nutrient composition and digestibility affect the beneficial and putrefactive fermentative end-products found in feces.

Source : K.R. Kerr et al., 2013. Evaluation of four raw meat diets using domestic cats, captive exotic felids, and cecectomized roosters. J Anim Sci online October 2012. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4835

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