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Title: Foraging strategies of cattle and goats in mixed-species grazing systems
Author: Magadzire, Zivayi
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The foraging strategies of cattle and goals were studied in different seasons in order to determine how animals respond to changes in the abundance of food resources in semi-arid rangelands in Zimbabwe. Three different approaches were used to test hypotheses concerning dietary shifts under different resource availability scenarios in the two species. In a field experiment, the foraging behaviour of cattle and goats responded to different cues in their environment: cattle were sensitive to changes in grass biomass while goats responded to browse. However, goats showed more flexibility in their response in changes in range condition by increasing the proportion of time spent on the more available resource. Similar results were found in an observational study of the foraging behaviour of goats and cattle in a communal area. Here the dry season strategy of goats consisted of increasing browsing and expanding their diet breath, while cattle depended more on stover in the fields as a forage supplement in the dry season.  key resources such as grass on contour bunds, riverine areas and fallow fields were also important, at the large scale. In both the field experiment and the communal area study; cattle and goats how low diet overlap indices, particularly for browse because cattle avoided species with thorns and selected broad-leaved species. In general, cattle had higher instantaneous intake rates on grass than browse, but matched intake rates on grass when they browsed on broad-leaved species. Goats were equally efficient on grass and browse, and had higher intake rates per metabolic body weight than cattle. Instantaneous intake rate under controlled conditions predicted that cattle would select broad-leaved browse species in preference to species with small leaves and thorns. This concurs with the results of the cattle in a field experiment and communal area study. The instantaneous intake rate of goats was only affected by a reduction in leaf density. Evaluation of range resources for sustainable animal production should take into account the animal species involved. Management interventions should be targeted at the dry season and key resource areas need to be protected so that they can be used strategically.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available