Feeding stations of feeder lambs (Ovis aires) as an indicator of diminished forage quality and supply while grazing south central Arizona alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)
AuthorHarper, John Michael, 1954-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractGrazing trials were conducted on irrigated fall/winter pastures near Maricopa, Arizona where 270 feeder lambs were stocked in 16-ha paddocks to explore the use of grazing behavior as an indicator of forage quantity and quality. Sheep behavior was monitored by filming the grazing periods with a VHS camera and recording the length of time that an individual spent at a feeding station, defined here as a feeding station interval. Other measurements included observed steps between feeding stations (step-sets), feeding stations min⁻¹, steps min⁻¹ and biting rate. As grazing progressed, lambs increased the number of feeding station intervals that were less than 5 seconds long and increased the number of feeding stations min⁻¹ significantly (p ≤ 0.05). Feeding stations min⁻¹ were negatively correlated (r ≤ -0.94) with crude protein, digestible energy and quantity of selected forage. Throughout the grazing trial lambs appeared to prefer the leaves to the stems. Steps min⁻¹ were only moderately correlated to forage quantity and quality. Bites min⁻¹ were not correlated to forage quantity and quality. Feeding stations min⁻¹ as a method of monitoring animal behavior during feeding periods might allow the manager to recognize nutritional limitations in the available forage and perhaps adjust management strategies accordingly.