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There is also growing concern regarding the possible introduction of animal effects when using mature sheep to determine the digestion kinetics of protein metabolism of feeds for high-yielding dairy cows. Finally, whilst not particularly relevant to the evaluation of feed proteins, the in sacco technique has been extended to consider the rumen degradability of other nutrients, including starch and NDF, but often with quite variable and sometimes conflicting results. In this context, de Visser (1993) provided a very convincing data set relating to the degradation characteristics of the starch component of different maize silages, which suggested the presence of increased amounts of ruminally protected starch as the forage crop matured.

However, the problem appears to be related to the way in which the technique has been exploited beyond its capabilities, similarly to the gas technique discussed earlier. Prediction of rumen protein degradability by NIRS is never likely to be a simple process, given that most feeds contain several different types of protein, all of which are likely to have different degradation profiles. Furthermore, to use this technique in conjunction with in sacco measurements of protein degradability, which have never been validated against in vivo observations, is an enormous step of confidence and an approach that should be adopted with caution.

1970), the only potential problem appearing to be some inconsistency in the commercially available amyloglucosidases. It is thus surprising that, over 25 years later, no standard methodology for starch analysis is available in the UK, and the position is remarkably similar in many other countries. Indeed, some laboratories appear to have reverted to techniques that were identified by MacRae and Armstrong as being both unsuitable and unreliable, whilst others have decided not to offer starch determination as a routine analysis.

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