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Diurnal behavior of Kiko wethers in southern-pine silvopastures planted with warm-season forages

Poudel, Sanjok, Karki, Uma, Karki, Yubaraj, Tillman, Asha
Small ruminant research 2019 v.175 pp. 1-6
Lespedeza cuneata, Paspalum notatum, Pinus palustris, Pinus taeda, cold season, computer software, data analysis, debarking, diurnal activity, forage, goats, grazing, silvopastoral systems, trees, warm season, wethers, Alabama
Goats are the common grazing livestock integrated into the silvopasture system. Previous grazing studies with goats in southern-pine silvopastures showed significant debarking of pine trees during the cool-season grazing period. However, goats’ behavior in this system during the warm-season grazing period has not been previously reported. The objective of the study was to determine the diurnal behavior and distribution pattern of Kiko wethers in southern-pine silvopastures planted with warm-season forages. The study was conducted at the Atkins Agroforestry Research and Demonstration Site, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama, USA. The study site consisted of three silvopasture plots (0.4-ha each) comprising 12-year-old longleaf (Pinus palustris Mill.) and loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) pines, with a tree density of 402 trees ha−1 (loblolly: longleaf ratio – 1.27). Study plots were divided into three zones, and three different warm-season forages were grown in these zones. Forage samples were collected and analyzed for productivity and quality. Ten Kiko wethers (2.75–2.90-year-old, 62.9 ± 1.56 kg BW) were rotationally stocked in the study plots, and their diurnal behavior and distribution pattern studied when they were in each study plot. Data were analyzed using Kruskal–Wallis rank-sum test in R-package. Grazing was the predominant diurnal behavior (46%) shown by Kiko wethers followed by staying in shelters (22%) and lying (17%). Wethers did not show any pine debarking behavior. Wethers spent predominant diurnal time in Zone 3 (42%) planted with sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.) G. Don) that had the highest quality forages followed by Zone 1 (31%) planted with bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flueggé). Kiko wethers could be safe to stock in southern-pine silvopastures containing 12-year-old trees during the warm-season grazing period.