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Herding and forage ingestion by sheep

Herding and forage ingestion by sheep

Applied Animal Behaviour Science 19(3-4): 279-290

A study was conducted in the Middle Atlas Region, Morocco, to investigate the impact of herding on ingestion and distance walked by sheep during spring (March-April), summer (June-July) and autumn (October-November) 1985. Stocking rate was considered to be light. Treatments were free-grazing (FG), normal-herded (NH) and fast-herded (FH) sheep. Fast-herded, NH and FG sheep travelled 11.4, 6.3 and 5.9 km/day, respectively (SE = 1.2). Grazing time averaged 508 .+-. 42 min/day for all treatments and seasons. The percentage grass, grass-like plants, forbs and shrubs in the diet was similar among treatments (P > 0.05), but animals ate more (P < 0.05) grass in spring (Sp) than summer (Su) or autumn (A). Percentage of shrubs in the diet was different in all seasons (P > 0.05), i.e. 3.7, 16.7 and 25.3%, respectively (SE = 2.0). Diversity and selectivity indices did not vary among treatments (P > 0.05), but increased (P > 0.05) between Sp and Su (SE = 0.14 and 0.03, respectively). The index of similarity between treatments, i.e. FG vs. NH, FG vs. FH or NH vs. FS, was 0.971, 0.990 and 0.986, respectively. Composition of neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF) and lignin (ADL), crude protein (CP), ash and in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVDMD) in simulated diets were similar among treatment groups (P > 0.05), but NDF, ADF and ADL increased (P < 0.05) with advance in season and CP and IVDMD declined (P < 0.05). Dry matter intake (g/LW0.75/day) was lower for FH (72) than for FG or NH (81 and 82, respectively) (SE = 3.0). This study demonstrated the ability of sheep to compensate for any adverse effect of herding when resources are not limiting.

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Accession: 001850961

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DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(88)90009-3

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