Criollo goats limit their grass intake in the early morning suggesting a prophylactic self-medication behaviour in a heterogeneous vegetation

Abstract

The present study compared the feeding behaviour of goats in the early morning (EM = 7:00–8:30 a.m.) and late morning (LM = 9:30–11:00 a.m.) in response to their natural gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infection status. Twelve female adult goats (37 ± 7.7 kg live weight (LW); 5 ± 1 years) with browsing experience in the tropical deciduous forest were divided into two groups (n = 6): INF group, with natural GIN infection, and non-infected (NI) group, dewormed with moxidectin (0.4 mg/kg LW subcutaneous). Feeding behaviour (dry matter intake (DMI)) of two resource types (grasses vs. shrubs + herbs) was estimated by direct observation for 4 weeks on two grazing moments (EM vs. LM). Environmental temperature and relative humidity at pasture level were measured twice weekly. The GIN egg counts and goats’ LW were measured on days 0, 14 and 28. Temperature (mean ± standard deviation) at EM (26.2 ± 1.5 °C) was lower than at LM (38.7 ± 1 °C; P < 0.01). Humidity was higher on the EM (85.1 ± 2.6%) compared to LM (60.4 ± 5.6%; P < 0.01). Irrespective of the infection status, goats consumed similar amounts of grass and shrubs + herbs during EM (P > 0.05). On the other hand, the experimental groups consumed more grass than shrubs + herbs during LM (P < 0.05). The latter suggested prophylactic behaviours strategies to (a) avoid GIN infective larvae, (b) balance the protein:energy ratio of the diet and (c) avoid saturation of detoxification pathways for the secondary compounds consumed from shrubs + herbs. The constant consumption of shrubs + herbs during the study may have reduced the GIN egg count of the INF group.

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Acknowledgements

Torres-Fajardo R. A. thanks the doctoral scholarship received from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) to perform his doctoral thesis. Also, gratefully acknowledged is the valuable contribution of J. Navarro-Alberto, J. Leirana-Alcocer and L. Sarmiento-Franco, students and other workers from the FMVZ-UADY who were involved in the execution of the experiment.

Funding

This study was supported by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, CONACYT, México [grant number CB-2013.01221608].

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Correspondence to J. F. J. Torres-Acosta.

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All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. The ethical committee of the FMVZ-UADY approved the experimental protocol used in this study (Reference number CB-CCBA-D-2014-003).

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Torres-Fajardo, R.A., González-Pech, P.G., Sandoval-Castro, C.A. et al. Criollo goats limit their grass intake in the early morning suggesting a prophylactic self-medication behaviour in a heterogeneous vegetation. Trop Anim Health Prod 51, 2473–2479 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-019-01966-3

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Keywords

  • Feeding behaviour
  • Tropical forest
  • Intake pattern
  • Flight behaviour