Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation, and Ecosystem Management (BEHAVE)


Sheep and Goat Preference for and Nutritional Value of Mediterranean Maquis Shrubs

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Small Ruminant Research







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The objective of this study was to evaluate the nutritive value, intake and preferences of sheep and goats for the dominant six shrubs of the holly oak maquis-type shrublands in Croatia. The experimental sheep (n = 12, mean weight 28.5 kg) were a local Croatian mixed breed. The experimental goats (n = 12, mean weight 13.4 kg) were a mixture of domestic goats crossed with Saanen and Alpine breeds. Sheep and goats differed (P < 0.01) in consumption of almost all of the shrubs. Goats had higher intakes (g/kg B.W., P < 0.01) than sheep of each shrub except Quercus ilex. In Trial 1, shrub intake for goats ranged from 17.7 ± 0.72 g/kg B.W. for Pistacia lentiscus to 33.1 ± 1.40 g/kg B.W. for Erica multiflora. Goats ate more Arbutus unedo (P = 0.004; 19.9 g/kg versus 14.2 g/kg B.W., respectively); E. multiflora (33.1 g/kg versus 21.9 g/kg B.W., respectively) and Pistacia lenticus (17.2 g/kg versus 10.6 g/kg B.W., respectively) than did sheep. Goats ate twice as much Juniperus phoeniceae (P = 0.002) as did sheep (21.0 g/kg versus 10.9 g/kg B.W.), and also ate more Viburnum tinus (P = 0.02) than did sheep (22.6 g/kg versus 13.9 g/kg B.W.). There was a day × treatment interaction (P = 0.001), with goats eating more A. unedo, E. multiflora, J. phoeniceae, P. lenticus and V. tinus than sheep. In Trial 2, the rank order of preference (highest to least) for goats were Q. ilex, E. multiflora, V. tinus, A. unedo, J. phoeniceae and P. lentiscus. The rank order by sheep was similar: Q. ilex, E. multiflora, V. tinus, J. phoeniceae, P. lentiscus and A. unedo. Overall, goats ate 50.5 g/kg B.W. of shrubs per day, while sheep averaged 26.7 g/kg B.W. each day. Goats are better suited to graze Mediterranean maquis in terms of potential shrub use.


Originally published by Elsevier. Publisher's PDF and HTML fulltext available through remote link.