Impact of sheep density and grazing duration on forage use in tall fescue-subclover hill pasture Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9019s7380

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  • A study investigating the effect of sheep stocking density and grazing duration on forage intake, grazing efficiency, dietary selectivity and subsequent forage accumulation in tall fescue(Festuca arundinacea)- subclover(Trifolium subtaranium) pastures was conducted near Corvallis, Oregon during early and late spring in 1988 and 1989. Grazing treatments were 2, 6, and 10-day duration and corresponding stocking densities 380, 130, 78 and 1390, 460 and 280 ewes/ha during early and late trials each year, respectively. Average daily intake and grazing efficiency were highest (P< 0.05) in the 10-day duration and lowest in the 2-day duration. During the first 2 days of all duration treatments, average daily intake decreased as stocking density increased (P< 0.05). Manure cover and crowding stress may explain lower average daily intake under the shorter duration/high density treatments. However, stocking density had little effect on grazing efficiency. This was largely due to the high amount of forage destroyed under the low density treatments which offset the effect of higher forage intake of that treatment. Within the 10-day duration treatment, average daily intake was the same over time (P> 0.05), while grazing efficiency decreased as grazing progressed (P< 0.05). The low grazing efficiency during the early stages of grazing reflected high initial forage destruction probably caused by the movement of animals at the start of grazing to establish bedding and habitual use areas. Growth rate of forage after grazing was highest in the longer duration paddocks and lowest in the shorter duration paddocks (P< 0.05), but the yield was similar under all treatments (P> 0.05). Although short duration/high density grazing is considered to be non-selective, sheep were equally or more selective under very short duration/very high density compared to longer duration/lower density treatments in this study. The 2 days duration was not an attractive management option since the intake and grazing efficiency were low, and the animals were selective.
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