Diurnal behavior and distribution patterns of Kiko wethers in southern-pine silvopastures during the cool-season grazing period

Article

Abstract

Goats are commonly used to utilize the understory vegetation in pine silvopasture systems. Understanding goats’ behavior and their distribution patterns is necessary to manage this system well. The objective of this study was to evaluate the diurnal behavior and distribution patterns of goats in Southern-pine silvopastures during the cool-season grazing period. This study was conducted in 2015 and 2016 in Tuskegee, Alabama, USA. Eight different cool-season forages were planted in separate subplots within each plot in mixed-pine silvopasture systems with three replications (3 plots, 0.4-ha each) in the fall of 2014 and 2015. Trees in the silvopasture consisted of longleaf (Pinus palustris Mill.) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.). Twenty-eight Kiko wethers were rotationally stocked in the silvopasture plots in April 2015, and January to April 2016. When study began, trees were 10 years old (DBH: 12 ± 0.2 cm; height: 7 ± 0.1 m), and animals were 5–7 months old. The diurnal behavior (grazing, browsing, loafing, lying, and debarking) and distribution patterns of goats were monitored from dawn to dusk for two consecutive days (2015) or one day (2016) in each plot at each grazing rotation. Grazing was the most dominant diurnal behavior (36–54%) of Kiko wethers followed by lying (29–34%) and loafing (15–22%). The distribution evenness index was more even in 2016 vs. 2015, spring vs. winter, and mid-day vs. morning. Goats also showed some debarking behavior (< 2%), mostly on longleaf pine. The study showed that goats’ behavior and distribution patterns were influenced by year (age), season, and part of the day.

Keywords

Debarking Distribution evenness index Grazing Longleaf pine Loblolly pine 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The major funding of this study was provided by USDA NIFA Capacity Building Grant Number 2013-38821-21415. Partial support was provided by McIntire-Stennis Funds Number 2015-32100-08902, Evans-Allen Funds Number 2015-33100-08902, and Extension Funds Number 2015-45100-08902. Authors are thankful to all staff and faculty in George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension of Tuskegee University, who provided the necessary support in conducting this research.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cooperative Extension/Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition SciencesTuskegee UniversityTuskegeeUSA

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