The diet of goats, red deer and South American camelids feeding on three contrasting Scottish upland vegetation communities

Fraser, M.D., and Gordon, I.J. (1997) The diet of goats, red deer and South American camelids feeding on three contrasting Scottish upland vegetation communities. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34 (3). pp. 668-686.

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1. With changes in the agricultural policy for rural areas in the UK there is increased interest in the development of management protocols for indigenous and sown swards in upland Scotland based on grazing by ruminant species other than sheep and cattle, e.g. goats, red deer and South American camelids.

2. Here we describe the diet composition over two seasons of goats, red deer and South American camelids (guanacos) grazing three vegetation types typical of upland ecosystems in the UK: a sown sward (Lolium perenne-dominated), an indigenous grassland (Nardus stricta-dominated) and a dwarf shrub community (Calluna vulgaris-dominated).

3. On each vegetation type, all three animal species were selective feeders. The composition of the goats' diet was more variable than that of the red deer and guanacos. All three species were more selective when grazing the indigenous communities than when grazing the sown sward.

4. On the Lolium sward, the guanacos avoided clover and other dicotyledonous plants, whilst the goats and red deer consumed green leaf from all plant categories found at or near the sward surface.

5. On the Nardus community, all three species avoided the dominant tussock-grass and selected green lamina of broad-leaved grasses from the species-rich inter-tussock areas. Between-species differences in minor components included an increased contribution of non-grass monocotyledonous plants to the goats' diet in spring, and a higher proportion of grass flowerstem and grass seed/flowerhead in the guanacos' diet in summer.

6. The diets of the three species of animal on the Calluna community were broadly similar. All generally avoided C. vulgaris and strongly selected graminoid species. Consumption of grass was greater in spring than summer.

7. Species differences in diet composition, particularly on indigenous swards dominated by N. stricta and C. vulgaris, might facilitate vegetation management and improve animal output using multispecies grazing systems.

Item ID: 42620
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2664
Keywords: Calluna vulgaris, diet composition, ruminants, Scotland
Funders: Scottish Office of the Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department (SOAEFD)
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2016 07:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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