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Diet Selection by Sheep and Goats on Mediterranean Heath-Woodland Range

J. Bartolome, J. Franch, J. Plaixats and N. G. Seligman
Journal of Range Management
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Jul., 1998), pp. 383-391
DOI: 10.2307/4003322
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4003322
Page Count: 9
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Diet Selection by Sheep and Goats on Mediterranean Heath-Woodland Range
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Abstract

The study determined the species components of the diets of small ruminants grazing mountain ranges of the Montseny Biosphere Reserve (Catalunya, NE Spain). Three mixed flocks of sheep and goats, led by shepherds, were monitored for a year. Animals grazed a mountain rangeland composed of Quercus ilex woodland and Calluna-Erica heathland during the day and were returned to their corrals every night. Diet selection was estimated using fecal analysis. Of the 111 species that were identified, 71 were common to both sheep and goat. Of these, 23 were represented in proportions of more than 1% of the annual diet. Even though goats and sheep grazed together, their diets were significantly different (p < 0.0001), the animal factor accounting for 18% to 60% of the total variation among the main diet components. Variation between seasons was also a major (5% to 56%) highly significant factor, while differences between flocks accounted for a significant, but relatively small part (3% to 10%) of the total variation in diet. The outstanding difference was the avoidance of the tree, Quercus ilex, by the sheep while the goats selected it throughout the year. Sheep selected graminoids throughout the year while goats tended to avoid them. For the rest there was substantial overlap in species composition between the diet of sheep and goats, especially when analysed over an entire cycle. /// El objetivo de este trabajo fué determinar la composición específica de las dietas de pequeños rumiantes que pastorean en las montañas de la Reserva de la Biosfera del Montseny (Catalunya, NE España). Durante un año se estudiaron tres rebaños mixtos de ovejas y cabras, conducidos por pastores. Estos rebaños pastoreaban durante el dia en encinares de montaña de Quercus ilex y en landas de Calluna-Erica y cada noche volvian a su corral. La selección de la dieta se estimó a partir del análisis fecal. De las 111 especies identificadas, 71 resultaron comunes en ovejas y cabras, y 23 aparecieron en proporciones superiores al 1% de la dieta total anual. A pesar de que ovejas y cabras pastoreaban juntas, sus dietas fueron significativamente diferentes (p < 0.0001). El factor animal contribuyó en un 18 a 60% del total de la varianza entre los principales componentes de la dieta. La varianza entre estaciones fué tambien un factor altamente significativo (5% a 56%), mientras que las diferencias entre rebaños contribuyeron en una pequeña parte, aún significativa (3% a 10%) del total de la varianza en la dieta. La principal diferencia fué el rechazo de la encina por parte de las ovejas en comparación con las cabras que la consumen durante todo el año. Las ovejas en cambio seleccionan especies graminoides a lo largo del año mientras las cabras tienden a rechazarlas. Para el resto de los componentes se observó un solapamiento sustancial en la composición específica de la dieta de ovejas y cabras, especialmente al considerar globalmente el ciclo anual.

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