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Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Pecuarias

Print version ISSN 0120-0690
On-line version ISSN 2256-2958


TARAZONA, Ariel M; CEBALLOS, María C; NARANJO, Juan F  and  CUARTAS, César A. Factors affecting forage intake and selectivity in ruminants. Rev Colom Cienc Pecua [online]. 2012, vol.25, n.3, pp.473-487. ISSN 0120-0690.

Selectivity is a fundamental strategy in forage intake dynamics. This process determines plant dynamics in botanically mixed ecosystems. Selective intake of certain plants or plant parts depends on intrinsic and external factors. These factors modulate consumption behavior when plant diversity does exists in the habitat. As a response to plant diversity, animals have developed anatomical (e.g., structure of apprehension organs) and physiological adaptations (e.g., metabolic adaptations). Adaptations help the animal to fulfill their nutritional requirements with the plants available in their ecosystem. Factors affecting consumption behavior and selectivity can be classified into three groups: 1) relative to the animal (species, breed, gender, weight, physiological stage, health, conditioning, consumption times, and experiences), 2) social factors (animal density and hierarchies), and 3) habitat (pasture structure, density of plant species, ease of access to fodder, and season). To defend themselves from herbivores, plants have developed structural adaptations (e.g., thorns, pubescence) and secondary compounds (e.g., phenols, terpenes, oxalates) which decrease palatability or generate harmful effects in animals. The objective of this review is to show an overview of the factors that affect forage intake behavior and selectivity in ruminants considering their context, to plan for efficient and sustainable management strategies.

Keywords : adaptation; browsing; grazing; pasture; sustainability.

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