Seasonal Variations in Voluntary Intake and ApparentDigestibility of Forages by Goats in the Chinese Altai Mountains
Rangeland Research Institute, Xinjiang Academy of Animal Science, Urumqi 830011, China
Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Kassel, Steinstrasse 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
Section Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Kassel and University of Göttingen, Steinstrasse 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Monica Isabella Cutrignelli
Received: 16 May 2022
Revised: 17 June 2022
Accepted: 20 June 2022
Published: 27 June 2022
Grazing animals have a major impact on rangelands through the consumption and trampling of vegetation along with excreta deposition. In turn, forage availability and quality, shaped by environmental and grazing impacts, affect animal performance and health. This study investigated the interaction between amount and nutritional quality of vegetation on offer and animal feed intake on alpine pastures in the Chinese Altai Mountains. To this end, daily grazing routes, vegetation on offer along the pathways, and forage consumption of goats were monitored during spring and the early and late summer season of two consecutive years. Grazing routes were longer in spring than in summer, leading to larger pasture areas utilised in spring. Despite marked differences in vegetation on offer between the two study years, quantitative feed intake did not exhibit seasonal or annual differences, indicating that the goats’ nutrient intake was not restricted on the mountain ranges.