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Title: Characterization of grazing behaviour microstructure using point-of-view cameras
Authors: Sales-Baptista, Elvira
Ferraz-de-Oliveira, Maria Isabel
Terra-Braga, Marina
Lopes de Castro, José António
Serrano, João
Cancela d’Abreu, Manuel
Editors: Villalobos, Luis Alonso
Keywords: meal pattern
grazing behavior
intake structure
diet selection
animal-borne cameras
plant-animal interactions
Issue Date: 18-Mar-2022
Publisher: PLoS One
Abstract: Grazing patterns, intake structure, and diet selection are dynamic responses to animals’ feeding environment. This study uses video sequences from animal-borne cameras to capture time- and scale-dependent grazing behaviour variables related to sward explanatory conditions. We observed grazing ‘through’ the sheep’s eyes using point-of-view (POV) cameras coupled with event logging software. Time-specific sward features were measured by sampling ‘really’ grazed patches identified by applying a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) precision-grazing approach. Sward variables on a Mediterranean native sward were measured for two years during the active spring plant-growth cycle. Overall, the results demonstrate that POV cameras were able to capture grazing behaviour fine-tuning to changes in sward characteristics. Sheep compensate for the decrease in sward quantity and nutritive value by increasing the size and duration at each behavioural scale (i.e., meal, bout, and station) while increasing the bout rate and decreasing the station rate. Diet composition also changed as sward matured. The proportion of forbs in the diet remained high in early and late spring, and forbs and legumes were preferred to grasses in early spring. Grazing selectivity was more pronounced in late spring, with sheep favouring the middle stratum of the sward’s vertical structure, preferring green vegetative material, while enlarging the feeding niches’ span and spending more time at each niche, consequently reducing the station rate. Although data collected by individual animal-borne POV cameras were representative of the flock behaviour, they may underestimate the total grazing time outside major meals. The results indicate that the use of animal-borne video cameras is suitable for assessing variations in sheep grazing behaviour patterns in complex swards.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:MED - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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