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Dietary Selection by Goats and Sheep in a Deciduous Woodland of Northeastern Brazil

James A. Pfister and John C. Malechek
Journal of Range Management
Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 24-28
DOI: 10.2307/3899680
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3899680
Page Count: 5
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Dietary Selection by Goats and Sheep in a Deciduous Woodland of Northeastern Brazil
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Abstract

The dietary botanical composition of indigenous sheep and goats was determined in the semiarid tropics of northeastern Brazil, using esophageally fistulated animals. Sheep and goats selected similar diets during the dry season (May-Dec.). Main dietary components for both species were dried forbs and browse. Leaf litter from the deciduous trees provided the majority of dry season forage (500-1,500 kg/ha) and was a crucial element of dry season diets (20-70%). During the wet season (Jan.-Apr.), sheep selected mainly grasses and forbs, while goats rapidly shifted among grasses, forbs, and browse. By displaying attributes of both browsers and grazers, neither sheep nor goats conformed to traditionally rigid characterization. We found no indication that goats are better adapted for survival in this tropical environment than are sheep because of the botanical composition of their diets. Management implications of this study for the caatinga vegetation zone are discussed.

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