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Spatial distribution patterns of sheep following manipulation of feeding motivation and food availability

journal contribution
posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by R Freire, David SwainDavid Swain, M Friend
We hypothesised that (i) increased feeding motivation will cause sheep to move further apart as a result of individuals trying to find food and (ii) in conditions of high food availability, sheep will move less and show greater social attraction. The effects of both feeding motivation and food availability on spatial distribution was examined in eight groups of food-deprived (high feeding motivation) and satiated (low feeding motivation) sheep in good or poor food resource plots in a 232 design. Distance travelled was assessed using Global Positioning System collars, grazing time using scan sampling and social cohesion using proximity collars that record the number and duration of encounters within 4m. Food-deprived sheep in the good-resource plots grazed the most, whereas satiated sheep in the poor-resource plots grazed the least ( P50.004). Food deprivation had no significant effect on the number or duration of encounters and feeding motivation appeared to have little effect on spatial distribution. Contrary to expectation, sheep had more encounters (P50.04) of a longer total duration ( P50.02) in poor-resource plots than in good-resource plots, indicating that sheep were showing more social cohesion if food was scarce. Our findings suggest that when food is scarce, animals may come together in an attempt to share information on food availability. However, when a highly preferred food is abundant and well dispersed, they may move apart in order to maximise the intake. It is concluded that the particular details of our experiment, namely the even distribution or absence of a highly preferred food, affected spatial distribution patterns as sheep tried to find this food and maximise the intake.

History

Volume

6

Issue

5

Start Page

846

End Page

851

Number of Pages

6

eISSN

1751-732X

ISSN

1751-7311

Location

UK

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Language

en-aus

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

External Author Affiliations

Centre for Environmental Management; Charles Sturt University; Institute for Resource Industries and Sustainability (IRIS);

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

Animal : the international journal of animal biosciences.

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