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J Anim Sci. 1988 Sep;66(9):2369-79.

Researching the plant-animal interface: the investigation of ingestive behavior in grazing animals.

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Agric. Eng. Dept., University of Kentucky, Lexington 40546.


Profitable livestock production from forages largely depends on efficiency of converting forages into products. Efficient grazing management systems require an understanding of the roles of system components. However, experimentation should be conducted with regard to the system as a whole rather than on the systems components in isolation. This may necessitate development of computer models. The short-term intake of forage by grazing animals is controlled both by the structure of the forage and by effects of the ingested forage on gut fill as moderated by the hunger-satiety complex. Intake can be defined as the product of bite size, rate of biting and grazing time. Measurement of these variables is facilitated by the use of esophageally fistulated animals and automatic recording devices. Bite size has the greatest influence on intake, with rate of biting and grazing time being compensatory variables. Sward structure influences bite size to varying degrees. In temperate grass swards, leaf surface height appears to be the dominant influence on bite size. But in tropical grass swards, leaf density and leaf:stem ratio have a greater influence on bite size than does leaf surface height. Alternative techniques to conventional grazing trials are described. Diversity of environments and forages in the U.S. requires further research into the development of grazing systems. In the future, small-scale trials and computer simulation techniques likely will be used to a greater extent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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