Invasion of poorly palatable grasses due to abandonment or improper grazing management decreases pastures feeding value and biodiversity. With the aim to control their spread, we assessed the relationship between sheep foraging behavior and changes in aboveground phytomass, leaf traits, and chemical features of the tall grass Brachypodium rupestre and evaluated the effects of a B. rupestre-based diet on epithelium keratinization of rumen. Our results demonstrated that sheep became less selective throughout the experimental trials and B. rupestre decreased its aboveground phytomass. Some leaf traits showed significant changes (LDMC, LA, and ADL were higher in ungrazed areas; leaf nitrogen content was higher in the grazed ones). In addition, we detected an increase of the degree of epithelium keratinization of sheep. Thus high grazing pressure can be used to control the spread ofB. rupestre, but negative effects on animal welfare due to the increase of rumen keratinization might be expected

Assessment of interaction between sheep and poorly palatable grass: a key tool for grassland management and restoration

CATORCI, Andrea;TARDELLA, Federico Maria;SCOCCO, Paola
2014

Abstract

Invasion of poorly palatable grasses due to abandonment or improper grazing management decreases pastures feeding value and biodiversity. With the aim to control their spread, we assessed the relationship between sheep foraging behavior and changes in aboveground phytomass, leaf traits, and chemical features of the tall grass Brachypodium rupestre and evaluated the effects of a B. rupestre-based diet on epithelium keratinization of rumen. Our results demonstrated that sheep became less selective throughout the experimental trials and B. rupestre decreased its aboveground phytomass. Some leaf traits showed significant changes (LDMC, LA, and ADL were higher in ungrazed areas; leaf nitrogen content was higher in the grazed ones). In addition, we detected an increase of the degree of epithelium keratinization of sheep. Thus high grazing pressure can be used to control the spread ofB. rupestre, but negative effects on animal welfare due to the increase of rumen keratinization might be expected
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11581/300982
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