Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 731–748 | Cite as

Livestock foraging behaviour on different land use classes along the semi-arid to sub-humid agro-ecological gradient in West Africa

  • Nouhoun Zampaligré
  • Eva Schlecht


This study compared the use of different land use classes and major foraging activities of pastoral and agro-pastoral livestock in the southern Sahelian, northern and southern Sudanian zone of Burkina Faso by monitoring three herds each of cattle, goats and sheep in three village territories during a 1-year cycle. Grazing routes were tracked using a Global Positioning System; coordinates logged every 10 s were overlaid on maps from where time and activity allocated to different land use classes were derived. Results indicate that daily distance travelled by cattle and goat herds was similar across agro-ecological zones (AEZs; p ≥ 0.05), whereas sheep travelled shorter distances in the southern Sudanian zone than in the two more northern zones (p ≤ 0.05). Daily pasturing time of cattle and sheep was longer (p ≤ 0.05) in the southern Sahelian and northern Sudanian zone than in the southern Sudanian zone. For goats, no significant difference was found between the two Sudanian zones, where their pasturing time was shorter than in the southern Sahelian zone. Except resting for cattle, browsing for goats and walking for sheep, time spent on different foraging activities by each species was similar across AEZs. Main areas for feeding across AEZs and species were degraded lands, fallows and harvested crop fields, as well as shrub and tree savannahs in the two Sudanian zones. To safeguard the nutrition of grazing livestock herds, interventions should focus on conserving still-existing pasture lands and regional livestock migration corridors to enable use of the remaining, often highly dispersed, pasture resources.


Agro-ecological zone Agro-pastoral system Burkina Faso Global Positioning System Ruminants 



We are indebted to all livestock owners and herders involved in this study for their confidence and permission to work with their animals. We are grateful to Mr. Ibrahima Kadaouré and Dr. Christoph Fischer for land use mapping and GIS data processing. We thank the staff at the “Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA)” at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for administrative support during our data collection. This project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in the framework of the project ALUCSSA (Adaptation of Landuse to Climate Change in southern Saharan Africa, Project Number 07.7860.5-001.00).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and SubtropicsUniversity of Kassel and Georg-August-Universität GöttingenWitzenhausenGermany
  2. 2.Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA)Bobo DioulassoBurkina Faso
  3. 3.Centre International de Recherche Développement sur l’Elevage en zone Subhumide (CIRDES)Bobo DioulassoBurkina Faso

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