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The influence of shape of paddock, type of fence and stocking rate on grazing behaviour and social facilitation in Merino sheep

By J. J. Lynch, D. A. Hedges

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Abstract

Grazing behaviour trials were carried out between Oct. 1964 and Sept. 1965 with Merino ewes, 18 months old, in paddocks on a predominantly Phalaris aquatica/white clover pasture with some perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and subterranean clover. It was concluded that grazing patterns adopted by sheep in small experimental paddocks are likely to be affected by daylength, lack of grass and rate of loss of liveweight. Grazing behaviour of groups of 2 sheep were not different when compared with 4 or 5 sheep over the summer period. Differences which appeared with time were more related to change in liveweight than to any difference between grazing behaviour due to size of flock. Grazing patterns of sheep in square paddocks did not appear to be affected by the ability to see sheep in neighbouring plots. However, there was the possibility of social inhibition occurring in sheep grazing adjoining rectangular paddocks and the tendency to more uniform grazing behaviour in plots with wire fences suggested that vision may have been important in this connection.

Date 1979
Publication Title Applied Animal Ethology
Volume 5
Issue 4
Pages 321-331
Language English
Author Address Div. of Anim. Prod., CSIRO, Pastoral Res. Lab., Armidale, N.S.W., Australia 2350.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Australasia
  4. Australia
  5. Butterflies and moths
  6. Clovers
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Developed countries
  9. Grasses
  10. Grazing
  11. Mammals
  12. Oceania
  13. OECD countries
  14. pastures
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Plants
  17. Sheep
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  1. peer-reviewed