Tropical Grasslands (2000) Volume 34, 48–55

Effect of season and concentrate feeding on the eating behaviour of sheep grazing a mixed pasture of Panicum maximum var. C1 and Brachiaria ruziziensis

B. MICHIELS1, S. BABATOUNDE1, F LIHOUNHINTO1, S.L.W. CHABI1 and A. BULDGEN2

1Département de Production Animale, Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université Nationale du Bénin, Abomey-Calavi, Benin
2 Unité de Zootechnie, Faculté Universitaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Gembloux, Belgium

Abstract

Thirty West African Dwarf sheep (14.4 kg LW) grazed a mixed pasture of Panicum maximum var. C1 (guinea grass) and Brachiaria ruziziensis (ruzi grass) in south Benin during the short dry season and the short rainy season 1997 (July–October). One group of 15 sheep (supplemented group) received cassava peels and cotton seeds ad libitum when they returned to the sheepfold. The other 15 sheep were used as control animals and received no supplement. The quality of the forage selected by sheep in each group was estimated by the hand-plucking method. The different activities of the sheep in the pasture and in the sheepfold were recorded regularly during the 2 seasons.
Digestible crude protein concentrations of the diet varied from 9.7–16.9% DM and were higher during the morning (P < 0.001) than in the afternoon and during the short dry season (P < 0.001) than the short rainy season. Concentrate supplementation did not influence the quality of the forage selected. In the pasture, the time spent grazing, ruminating and resting ranged from 233–288, 27–62, and 45–69 min/d, respectively. Supplementation significantly (P < 0.01) decreased time spent grazing. The time devoted to the different activities varied between the morning and the afternoon. During the short dry season, more time was spent grazing ruzi grass (P < 0.001) than grazing guinea grass.

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