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Lamb performance in hardwood silvopastures, II: animal behavior in summer
Pent, Gabriel J.
Greiner, Scott P.
Munsell, John F.
Tracy, Benjamin F.
Fike, John Herschel
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Integrating trees into pastures, a practice known as silvopasture, may benefit livestock in the summertime through the provision of shade. The purpose of this project was to compare the behavioral patterns of sheep grazing in silvopastures and open pastures. Black walnut (Juglans nigra L.) and honeylocust (Gleditisia triacanothose L.) based silvopasture systems were compared with open pastures in a randomized complete block design with three blocks over two summers. Behavior measures were recorded within a replicate within a week, and these measures were taken sequentially within three experimental periods. Ewe lambs (n = 3) within each experimental unit were equipped with a wideband audio-recording device to detect prehension events. Time-lapse cameras documented sheep behavior every 60 s. In the silvopastures, the lambs spent over 90% of daylight hours within shade from trees. Lambs in silvopastures spent more time lying down than animals in the open pastures (P ≤ 0.01), while lambs in the open pastures spent more than 2 h longer each day standing (P < 0.0001). Lambs in the black walnut silvopastures spent more time grazing (488 ± 14 min · d⁻¹) than lambs in the honeylocust silvopastures (438 ± 14 min · d⁻¹; P = 0.0493) and lambs in the open pastures (417 ± 14 min · d⁻¹; P = 0.0026). There was no difference in grazing time for lambs in the latter two systems (P = 0.5597). Spectral analysis of the imagery revealed that the lambs in the black walnut silvopastures grazed more frequently than the lambs in the other systems for both years. The acoustic analysis, though limited by recorder durability to 47 complete recordings, revealed no difference in total bites taken per day (P ≥ 0.7222) or in the morning (P ≥ 0.2069), afternoon (P ≥ 0.5816), and evening periods (P ≥ 0.9337). Silvopastures provide an opportunity to improve lamb comfort in the summer.
- Open Access Subvention Fund Articles 
- Scholarly Works, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences 
- Scholarly Works, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation 
- Scholarly Works, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences 
- Scholarly Works, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station