Influence of sward characteristics on grazing behaviour and short-term intake of cattle. A review

  • S.O. Jimoh
  • O.O. Adeleye
  • J.A. Olanite
Keywords: Sward characteristics, Grazing behaviour, Intake rate, Sward height, Forage mass, Ruminants


Relative to temperate systems, there has been few reported detailed assessments of sward characteristics and associated grazing behavior from natural and  established pastures in Nigeria. This study reviewed the important relationship   between sward characteristics and grazing behaviour and discusses the implications of canopy characteristics for short-term intake. The review is divided into two  sections with the first part highlighting the influence of sward characteristics (sward height, forage mass and sward maturity) as a means of manipulating grazing  behaviour of ruminants. The second part brought to fore the process of grazing, bite feature and short-term grazing trials. The review showed that cattle prefer short dense leafy swards compared to senescent plant materials. This is based on  research results suggesting that short dense sward possess high quantity of green materials which is relished by ruminants during grazing. The feasibility of   intensifying grazing studies in the tropics, particularly in Nigeria, to examine the behaviour of ruminants in highly heterogeneous pastures has the potential to  provide integrated (sward, animal, management) strategies for sustainable livestock production in Nigeria.

Key Words: Sward characteristics; Grazing behaviour; Intake rate; Sward height; Forage mass; Ruminants.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1119-4308