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Intake by goats browsing kermes oak alone or choices of different browse combinations: implications for Mediterranean grazing systems
The objective of this study was to determine if (1) intake by goats of kermes oak (Quercus coccifera L.), the main forage in Mediterranean kermes oak shrublands, was affected by availability of white mulberry (Morus alba L.) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.), two nutritious woody plants projected for introduction to Mediterranean grazing systems and (2) how a combination of the three species might influence the total intake by goats. The experiment consisted of a 9-day adaptation period, and 7 days of testing. Twenty-eight goats were used in four browse treatments (7goats/treatment). In treatment 1, goats had kermes oak available during the entire feeding period, which lasted from 0800 to 1600hours. In the other three treatments, goats had available kermes oak from 0800 to 1400hours but from 1400 to 1600hours had three different browse choices: kermes oak and black locust (treatment 2), kermes oak and white mulberry (treatment 3), and kermes oak, black locust and white mulberry (treatment 4). When goats were fed only kermes oak, their daily intake was lower (685g/dayDM; P?0.001) than when kermes oak was fed in combination with the other fodder browse (882, 811, and 1029g/day for treatments 2, 3, and 4, respectively). Goats fed with browse combinations gained weight while those fed only kermes oak lost weight. In both feeding periods, goats in all treatments ingested similar amounts of kermes oak. However, the total intake in the second feeding period (kermes oak plus fodder browse) differed (P?0.001) among treatments, goats ate kermes oak+black locust+white mulberry (650g DM)>kermes oak+black locust (530gDM)>kermes oak+white mulberry (441g DM)>kermes oak (287g DM). These results indicate that the presence of nutritious fodder browse does not affect the consumption of kermes oak and suggest that goats browsing a variety of woody species will have a higher intake than goats browsing only kermes oak, and that the combination of all three browse species is best in terms of total intake.
Name of Journal:
The Rangeland Journal