Variety of Foods and Flavors Affects Selection of Foraging Location by Sheep
Applied Animal Behavior Science
Our objective was to determine if variety of dietary flavors and ingredients affected selection of foraging locations by sheep. We hypothesized lambs would forage in locations that offered a variety of flavors and/or nutritional characteristics and on foods that differed from their basal diet. We tested this hypothesis in four trials. During Trial 1, lambs were fed a basal ration of alfalfa pellets (2.41 Mcal/kg DE, 18% CP), and then offered a test diet that was a ground mixture of 58% barley, 20% alfalfa, 17% grape pomace, 4% soybean meal, and 1% minerals (2.69 Mcal/kg DE and 14.7% CP). The test diet was offered at two different locations, one that provided the diet with a variety of added flavors (apple, anise, unadulterated) and the other that provided the diet in only the most preferred flavor (apple or anise). Procedures were the same during Trial 2, except the basal ration and the test diet were the same and different flavors were offered at the variety (apple, anise, fresh forage) and monotony (fresh forage) locations. During Trial 1, when the test diet differed from the basal diet, variety of flavors did not affect foraging location (P>0.05), but during Trial 2, when the basal diet was identical to the test diet, lambs preferred to forage where there was a variety of flavors (P<0.05). During Trials 3 and 4, the test diet was offered in different flavors along with alfalfa pellets (Trial 3) or ground alfalfa (Trial 4) at the variety location, whereas the test diet was offered in the preferred flavor at the monotony location. During Trial 3, lambs spent more time at the variety location, and they ate more pellets than the ground test diet, even though the test diet had higher concentration of energy (P<0.05), evidently because macro-nutrients consumed/unit time was greater for pellets than for the ground test diet. In Trial 4, lambs spent more time and ate more food where there was variety of foods and flavors (P<0.05), apparently because alfalfa and the test diet were complementary in flavor and nutrition. Collectively, our results suggest lambs selected foraging locations based primarily on nutritional factors, but when nutrient content was constant, variety of flavors was important.
Scott, Lindsey L.; Provenza, Frederick D. 1998. Variety of Foods and Flavors Affects Selection of Foraging Location by Sheep. Applied Animal Behavior Science. 61: 113-122.