Grazing behaviour and forage selection pattern of heifers in the range
The grazing behaviour of eight yearling white Fulani heifers was studied in two season of year in the south western zone of Nigeria. Time spent on different activities such as drinking, walking, grazing, resting and ruminating were determined using direct eye observation technique. The types of forage selected in both seasons were identified. Visual observations revealed that behaviour was influenced by seasons. The heifers spent 2, 8, 15, 14 and 62% of their time drinking, ruminating, resting, walking and grazing respectively as overall percentage for the two seasons. The forage selection pattern revealed that forbs were mostly selected in the late dry season and grasses in the early rain season. The forages selected in the late dry season were Panicum maximum, Cynodon dactylon, Ipomea aquatical, Leucaena leucocephela, Centrosema mole and Althernanthera dentata. In the early rain season forages selected include Setaria bartata, Echinochloa stagirina, Pennisetum purpureum and Panicum maximum regrowth. It is therefore concluded that the study provides a quick insight into behavioural and forage selection pattern of heifers. Therefore the study can be used to assess grazing animal nutrition condition.
Keywords: Heifers, yearling, seasons, selection, forbs, grasses and legumes