Botanical composition of Caatinga rangeland and diets selected by grazing sheep Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016. Sheep dietary selection from species-diverse Caatinga rangeland of semi-arid northeastern Brazil has not been docu-mented. This study examined the botanical composition of the available forage and diets of Dorper x Saint Ines ewes on thinned Caatinga over-seeded with Cenchrus ciliaris and Urochloa mosambicensis. Sixty-three species from 23 families, dominated by shrubs and short trees of low forage nutritive value, were identified in the vegetation. The botanical com-position revealed, on average, high presence of 29.2% Malvaceae and 13.0% C. ciliaris. Using the microhistological technique, sheep showed, on average, 59.6% preference for dicotyledons throughout the year. However, selectivity in-dexes indicated, on average, greater selection for Poaceae during the rainy season (1.5) and for dicotyledons in the dry season (1.8) with a year-round aversion for Malvaceae (0.3). These findings suggest that Caatinga vegetation manage-ment should include Malvaceae thinning and greater incorporation of grasses and herbaceous legumes to improve range-land carrying capacity.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • De Oliveira, O. F., Dos Santos, M., Da Cunha, M. V., Dubeux, J., Muir, J. P., De Mello, A., Lira, M. A., & De Barros, G.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • De Oliveira, Osniel F||Dos Santos, Mercia VF||Da Cunha, Marcio V||Dubeux, Jose CB Jr||Muir, James P||De Mello, Alexandre CL||Lira, Mario A||De Barros, Gustavo FNP

publication date

  • May 2016