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Statistical and probabilistic estimators of forage conditions from grazing behaviour of Merino sheep in a semi-arid environment

By M. L. Dudzinski, H. J. Schuh, D. G. Wilcox, H. G. Gardiner, J. G. Morrissey

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Abstract

The flock structure of Merino ewes and rams was recorded from the air in 22 surveys over 3 yr in a large semi-arid area of W. Australia. Forage production and body wt. data were collected over the same period. A dispersion index, DI (with zero value when all the sheep were in 1 group and with unit value when each sheep was isolated) was linearly related to an index of forage production, dispersion increasing with forage deterioration and curvilinearly related to sheep av. body wt. Opt. conditions were reached when body wt. was 47 kg or higher at DI = 0. Consideration was given to the relationship between dispersion and number of ewes in groups without rams. A model in which rams were randomly allocated after the original big group had split into various smaller groups appeared to fit observation. It was concluded that forage conditions in rangeland areas could be estimated reasonably well from the grazing behaviour of merino sheep based on aerial or perhaps on satellite observation.

Date 1978
Publication Title Applied Animal Ethology
Volume 4
Issue 4
Pages 357-368
Language English
Author Address Division of Mathematics and Statistics, CSIRO, Canberra, A.C.T., Australia.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Arid regions
  5. Australasia
  6. Australia
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Developed countries
  9. Fodder
  10. Foraging
  11. Grasslands and rangelands
  12. Grazing
  13. Livestock
  14. Liveweight gains
  15. Mammals
  16. Oceania
  17. OECD countries
  18. pastures
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. productivity
  21. Sheep
  22. Wool
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  1. peer-reviewed