The University of Arizona

Paddock shape effects on grazing behavior and efficiency in sheep.

A. Sevi, A. Muscio, D. Dantone, V. Iascone, F. D'Emilio


Two grazing trials were conducted during early winter (December 1996-January 1997) and spring (April-May 1997) to evaluate the effect of shape of pasture on forage use and behavior of grazing sheep (Ovis aries). Two treatments were tested, square and rectangular paddock, with 2 replicates for each treatment of 9 ewes each. Groups were homogeneous for age and weight. Paddock size furnished 10 m2 per sheep per day. Each paddock was divided into 8 equal plots to determine herbage intake and grazing efficiency along the boundary and in the middle of paddocks. The shape of paddock affected sheep grazing efficiency and herbage intake both in the winter and in the spring. Because of a greater amount of herbage destroyed within boundary plots, the ewes in rectangular paddocks grazed less time, had lower herbage intake and used forage less efficiently than ewes in square paddocks. These results suggest that the shape of pasture can affect the behavior and herbage intake of sheep grazing in small paddocks and indicate that square paddocks should be used for research studies on sheep grazing behavior.



Italy;chemical composition;pastures;winter;animal behavior;spring;feeding behavior;voluntary intake;Mediterranean climate;selective grazing;use efficiency;sward destruction;shape;protein intake;energy intake;grazing intensity;sheep;biomass;forage;dry matter

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