Title: Grazing Seasons and Stocking Rates Affects the Relationship between Herbage Traits of Alpine Meadow and Grazing Behaviors of Tibetan Sheep in the Qinghai－Tibetan Plateau
Authors: Xiang Xiao, Tao Zhang, Jay Peter Angerer, Fujiang Hou
Impact Factor: IF2018=1.832 (农林科学2区)
Abstract: Under the combined effect of stocking rate and grazing season, it is very significant to ascertain whether there is a quantitative relationship between plant community characteristics, chemical composition of forage, and grazing behaviors of Tibetan sheep to better utilize native pasture in the northeast region of the Qinghai－Tibetan Plateau (QTP). The two consecutive year observation experiments on Tibetan sheep’s grazing behavior were conducted to evaluate the above-stated relationships between stocking rates of 8 sheep/ha and 16 sheep/ha stocking rates in the both the warm and cold seasons. The results demonstrated that at 8 sheep/ha or in the warm season, due to better forage quality, Tibetan sheep had higher herbage mass, forage crude protein (CP) concentration, CP intake, dry matter intake (DMI), and interval between feed boluses and total number of steps, as well as lower fiber concentration than that at 16 sheep/ha or in the cold season. Diurnal intake rate and walking velocity while intaking increased as both average daylight ambient temperature and relative humidity rose. Using the CP concentration, acid detergent fiber (ADF) concentration, neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration, and forage metabolic energy (ME) to predict grazing behavior yielded the best fit equation for Tibetan sheep. For local herdsmen to sustainably use the alpine meadow, 8 sheep/ha in the warm season should be considered as the better grazing condition for preventing grassland degradation.