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Conference poster2008Peer reviewed

Foraging behaviour and diet composition in cattle on semi-natural grasslands

Hessle, Anna; Wissman, Jörgen


Optimal grazing management is important to maintain biodiversity in semi-natural grasslands. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of breed, season and pasture moisture gradient on foraging behaviour, faecal plant fragment composition and defoliation of competitive plant species by cattle on semi-natural grasslands. Heifers of the Swedish traditional breed Väneko and the commercial breed Charolais grazing semi-natural grasslands during spring, summer and autumn of 2004 were studied. The Väneko heifers had a higher activity thatn the Charolais heifers (P=0.006). As the grazing period progressed, time spent grazing (P<0.05) and efficiency of grazing (P<0.001) increased. Proportions of Cyperaceae (sedges and rushes) and herbs were highest in the spring (P<0.001), whereas the proportion of Festuca rubra (red fescue) was highest in the autumn (P<0.01). Defoliation intensity of Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet) and Alnus glutinosa (alder) increased as the grazing period progressed (P<0.05). On average over seasons, 28% of the herbage mass was found in the wet areas, dominated by Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass), whereas only 8% of the grazing occurred there. In conclusion, foraging behaviour and diet composition were affected more by season than by breed, and wet areas were avoided for foraging


breed; season; moisture gradient; grazing; defoliation; nature conservation

Published in

Grassland Science in Europe
2008, Volume: 13, pages: 117-119
Title: Biodiversity and Animal Feed : Future Challenges for Grassland Production
ISBN: 978-91-85911-47-9
Publisher: Organising Committee of the 22nd General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


The 22nd General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation