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Feed resource selection by Criollo goats browsing a tropical deciduous forest

Javier Ventura-Cordero , Pedro González-Pech , Carlos Sandoval-Castro , Juan Torres-Acosta , Juan Tun-Garrido

Abstract

Goats browsing in a tropical deciduous forest (TDF) obtain a large proportion of their diet from a large number of plant species. Nevertheless, the goat’s feed resource selection has not been studied in such ecosystem. This study aimed to determine whether goats browsing in a TDF display active feed resource selection. Two browsing sites were used (A = 2.2 ha and B = 2.6 ha). The effective availability (g) of all plant species available was measured for each site using 10 m x 20 m exclusion quadrants. Three non-pregnant adult goats (34.9 ± 2.4 kg live weight) with browsing experience were observed using the continuous bite monitoring method to determine their respective dry matter intake. The selection of different plants was determined using the Jacobs Selection Index (JSI). The goats’ dry matter intake per day was 723 and 310.8 g for sites A and B, respectively. At both browsing sites, the plant with the highest biomass availability was Gymnopodium floribundum (75.5 and 49.3% for sites A and B, respectively). Nevertheless, the plant species most actively selected by goats were Eragrostis ciliaris at site A (JSI = 0.99, P < 0.05) and Mimosa bahamensis at site B (JSI = 0.96, P < 0.05). Some plant species were not consumed at sites A and B (three and five species, respectively). In conclusion, feed resource selection was not associated with the biomass availability of the plants selected or refused. Goats were able to show active feed resource selection in the TDF, and this could change according to the characteristics of the browsing site.

AN16388  Accepted 07 August 2017

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