Dry season foraging preferences of cattle and sheep in a communal area of South Africa.

James Bennett, P.C. Lent, P.J.C. Harris

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Abstract

We examined landscape and habitat (vegetation) scale foraging of cattle and sheep at two communal villages to determine the key resources utilised during the dry season. At a landscape scale, cattle at both sites displayed overall preference for the arable lands at this time although this diminished steadily as the dry season progressed. In contrast, sheep made considerably less use of these areas, showing only sporadic preference. At the vegetation scale cattle demonstrated greatest preference for crop residues and uncultivated ‘commonage’ areas although foraging in grassland increased considerably in the latter stages of the dry season. Sheep utilised a much smaller range of vegetation types, preferring crop residues and fields that had been recently fallow and avoiding all other vegetation categories. We suggest that given the spatial limitations in planned, communal villages, the arable lands function as key resource areas for livestock during the dry season. It is recommended that management of these areas emphasise greater integration of sheep and cattle grazing and focus on maintaining vegetation heterogeneity in order to facilitate opportunistic ‘switching’ in foraging patterns at different stages of the dry season.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-121
JournalAfrican Journal of Range and Forage Science
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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Bibliographical note

This is a preprint of an article whose final form has been published in the African Journal of Range and Forage Science 24 (1) copyright (c)2007 NISC Pty Ltd. African Journal Range and Forage Science is available online at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/nisc/rf

Keywords

  • dry season
  • foraging patterns

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