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Variety of foods and flavors affects selection of foraging location by sheep

By L. L. Scott, F. D. Provenza

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The effect of variety of dietary flavours and ingredients on selection of foraging locations by sheep was studied. It was hypothesized that lambs would forage in locations that offered a variety of flavours and/or nutritional characteristics and on feeds that differed from their basal diet. This hypothesis was tested in 4 trials. During trial 1, lambs were fed a basal ration of lucerne pellets (2.41 Mcal/kg DE, 18% CP), and then offered a test diet that was a ground mixture of 58% barley, 20% lucerne, 17% grape pomace, 4% soyabean meal and 1% minerals (2.69 Mcal/kg DE, 14.7% CP). The test diet was offered at 2 different locations, one that provided the diet with a variety of added flavours (apple, anise, unadulterated) and the other that provided the diet in only the most preferred flavour (apple or anise). Procedures were the same during trial 2, except the basal ration and the test diet were the same and different flavours were offered at the variety (apple, anise, fresh forage) and monotony (fresh forage) locations. During trial 1, when the test diet differed from the basal diet, variety of flavours did not affect foraging location (P<0.05), but during trial 2, when the basal diet was identical to the test diet, lambs preferred to forage where there was a variety of flavours (P<0.05). During trials 3 and 4, the test diet was offered in different flavours along with lucerne pellets (trial 3) or ground lucerne (trial 4) at the variety location, whereas the test diet was offered in the preferred flavour at the monotony location. During trial 3, lambs spent more time at the variety location, and they ate more pellets than the ground test diet, even though the test diet had a higher concentration of energy (P<0.05), evidently because macronutrients consumed/unit time was greater for pellets than for the ground test diet. In trial 4, lambs spent more time and ate more feed where there was variety of feeds and flavours (P<0.05), apparently because lucerne and the test diet were complementary in flavour and nutrition. Collectively, the results suggest lambs selected foraging locations based primarily on nutritional factors, but when nutrient content was constant, variety of flavours was important.

Date 1998
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 61
Issue 2
Pages 113-122
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Rangeland Resources, Utah State University, Logan 84322-5230, UT, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Alfalfa
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Composition
  5. Feeding behavior
  6. Feed preferences
  7. Feeds
  8. Flavor
  9. Mammals
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. Sheep
  1. peer-reviewed