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A comparison of two rotational stocking strategies on the foraging behaviour and herbage intake by grazing sheep

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Savian, J. V., Schons, R. M. T., Mezzalira, J. C., Barth Neto, A., Da Silva Neto, G. F., Benvenutti, M. A. and Carvalho, P. C. d. F. (2020) A comparison of two rotational stocking strategies on the foraging behaviour and herbage intake by grazing sheep. Animal . pp. 1-8. ISSN 1751-7311

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1017/s1751731120001251

Abstract

An understanding of the processes involved in grazing behaviour is a prerequisite for the design of efficient grassland management systems. The purpose of managing the grazing process is to identify sward structures that can maximize animal forage daily intake and optimize grazing time. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of different grazing management strategies on foraging behaviour and herbage intake by sheep grazing Italian ryegrass under rotational stocking. The experiment was carried out in 2015 in southern Brazil. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with two grazing management strategies and four replicates. The grazing management treatments were a traditional rotational stocking (RT), with pre- and post-grazing sward heights of 25 and 5 cm, respectively, and a ‘Rotatinuous’ stocking (RN) with pre- and post-grazing sward heights of 18 and 11 cm, respectively. Male sheep with an average live weight of 32 ± 2.3 kg were used. As intended, the pre- and post-grazing sward heights were according to the treatments. The pre-grazing leaf/stem ratio of the Italian ryegrass pasture did not differ between treatments (P > 0.05) (~2.87), but the post-grazing leaf/stem ratio was greater (P < 0.001) in the RN than in the RT treatment (1.59 and 0.76, respectively). The percentage of the non-grazed area was greater (P < 0.01) in post-grazing for RN compared with RT treatment, with an average of 29.7% and 3.49%, respectively. Herbage nutritive value was greater for the RN than for the RT treatment, with greater CP and lower ADF and NDF contents. The total time spent grazing, ruminating and resting did not differ between treatments (P > 0.05), with averages of 439, 167 and 85 min, respectively. The bite rate, feeding stations per min and steps per min by sheep were greater (P < 0.05) in the RN than in the RT treatment. The grazing time per hour and the bite rate were greater (P < 0.05) in the afternoon than in the morning in both treatments. The daily herbage intake by sheep grazing Italian ryegrass was greater (P < 0.05) in the RN than in the RT treatment (843.7 and 707.8 g organic matter/sheep, respectively). Our study supports the idea that even though the grazing time was not affected by the grazing management strategies when the animal behaviour responses drive management targets, such as in ‘Rotatinuous’ stocking, the sheep herbage intake is maximized, and the grazing time is optimized.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:grazing behaviour grazing management intake rate Italian ryegrass sward structure
Subjects:Animal culture > Brands and branding, and other means of identifying
Animal culture > Sheep
Animal culture > Deer
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Deposited On:24 Aug 2020 22:45
Last Modified:24 Aug 2020 22:46

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