Influence of tropical upright pasture structural and chemical characteristics on lamb grazing time.
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Tropical pasture canopy characteristics can alter lamb ingestive behavior. Our study evaluated the ingestive behavior of young lambs in different tropical pastures to identify which variables interfere in their grazing activity. Two years of study were carried out with 54 weaned lambs distributed in three different pasture canopies: 1) monoculture of an upright grass, guinea grass (Panicum maximum; GG); 2) monoculture of a shrubby legume pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan; PP) and 3) contiguous paddock with half GG and half PP (GP). The experiment was set out in a randomized complete block design (3 blocks). Lamb ingestive behavior was observed from sunrise to sunset with records every 5 minutes. To identify the main variables that affected lamb grazing activity, a multivariate analysis of the Decision Tree was performed. Our results showed that there was no difference in the ingestive behavior parameters of young lambs in different canopies (P > 0.05). There was interaction among the canopies and the experimental periods for the variables idleness time and biting rate (P ≤ 0.05). Lambs in all canopies showed more idleness time in the first evaluation period. Lambs in canopies containing grass (GG and GP) exhibited greater bites per minute throughout the experimental period. Lamb grazing time increased 40% as experimental period progressed and plants matured. The Decision Tree identified leaf:stem ratio as the variable that most influenced lamb grazing time in GG and GP canopies while in the PP, grazing time was directly related to canopy height. The behavior of young lambs on tropical pasture is variable as there is a change in the behavioral response to canopy characteristics over time. In addition, the grazing time of these animals can be estimated by means of variables related to canopy structural characteristics (leaf:stem ratio and height) together with chemical variables.
author list (cited authors)
Tontini, J. F., Poli, C., Hampel, V., Farias, M., Fajardo, N. M., Silva, J., Farinatti, L., & Muir, J. P.
complete list of authors
Tontini, Jalise Fabíola||Poli, Cesar Henrique Espírito Candal||Hampel, Viviane da Silva||Farias, Mariana de Souza||Fajardo, Neuza Maria||Silva, Joseane Anjos da||Farinatti, Luis Henrique Ebling||Muir, James Pierre