Food Aversion Learning: Conditioning Lambs to Avoid a Palatable Shrub (Cercocarpus montanus)
Journal of Animal Science
American Society of Animal Science
Burritt, E. A., & Provenza, F. D. (1989). Food Aversion Learning: Conditioning Lambs to Avoid a Palatable shrub (Cercocarpus montanus). Journal of Animal Science, 67(3), 650-653.
Dietary preferences of livestock are flexible, so manipulating diet selection of livestock may be a better alternative than vegetation manipulation to reduce livestock losses to poisonous plants. We studied the feasibility of training lambs to avoid the palatable shrub Cercocarpus montanus. Lambs naive to C. montanus were exposed to shrubs in 8-liter pots in pens for 5 d. Treatment lambs received lithium chloride (LiCl), a non-lethal gastrointestinal poison, immediately following consumption of the shrub. Control lambs received no LiCl. Treatment (averted) lambs decreased their ingestion of C. montanus over the 5-d training trial, whereas control animals increased consumption of the shrub. During subsequent pasture trials, averted and control lambs chose .2 to .4% vs 15 to 35% of their bites from C. montanus, respectively (P < .05). When averted and control lambs grazed together in a common pasture, averted lambs continued to select fewer of their bites from C. montanus than did control lambs (5% vs 19%). We conclude that aversive conditioning may be a viable method for manipulating diet selection of free-ranging livestock.