Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Selective grazing and aversion to olive and grape leaves achieved in goats and sheep

Researchers from the Research Group on Ruminants led by Elena Albanell, lecturer in Animal and Food Science, have successfully achieved to prevent sheep and goats from chewing on the young leaves of olive trees and grapevines when grazing.

By using the natural mechanism of conditioned taste aversion, researchers redirected the food preferences of ruminants, making them more willing to eliminate undesirable plants from these types of pastures, and thereby reducing the use of pesticides and farming equipment.

The cultivation of woody plants (olive trees, grapevines, fruit trees, etc.) take up 27% of the cultivated land in Spain (MARM, 2010). This cultivation system permits plants to grow around the trees or vines, but in order to prevent these plants from becoming a problem for the cultivations, they must be controlled with herbicides and/or farming equipment.

In the long term, these practices can cause environmental problems due to the residues they leave behind or to the compactation of soil produced by farming equipment. A more environmentally sustainable and respectful system would be to control these undesired plants with the grazing of sheep and goats. This system would reduce the use of herbicides and fertilisers, given that the droppings of these animals provide many nutrients for the soil and thus could be used as an agricultural resource, as well as favour a better integration between the agricultural and farming sectors.

The negative side to grazing in these pastures are the damages caused by the animals, since sheep and goats are also free to eat leaves and soft shoots and thus affect the amount and quality of the crops. That is why a perfect solution would be the ability to guarantee farmers that these animals pose no threat to their lands and crops while grazing. This was the objective of researchers at the UAB Faculty of Veterinary Medicine when they proposed the use of conditioned taste aversion in the aim of redirecting the food preferences of these ruminants.

A pilot plan prepared by the UAB Service for Experimental Farm and Fields revealed that sheep and goats can be trained not to not eat olive leaves - a food these small ruminants particularly like. This is especially true with goats, since their "browsing" nature leads them to eat shrubs and trees.

Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is a natural defensive mechanism animals develop when learning which foods are healthy and which are potentially toxic. To achieve this aversion, researchers fed olive leaves and soft shoots to individual animals which had never tasted this food before, and later administered lithium chloride. Lithium chloride is used in humans to treat mental conditions and in animals with the aim of modifying their eating habits. It simulates the mechanism action of toxic components found in plants, provoking vomits and generating a sensation of indigestion which the animal associates with the new food it has eaten.

The results obtained are very encouraging. With one dosis of lithium chloride, the sheep and goats rejected the olive leaves from the first day and their behaviour differed greatly from the animals in the control group. The aversion lasted over four months. Following this line of research and thanks to the concession of a research project under the "National R&D&I Plan" (AGL2010--22178-C02-01), the project is effectively achieving its goals under commercial conditions, with both animals acquiring aversion for olive leaves and sheep learning to dislike grapevines.

Reference article:
Manuelian C.L., Albanell E., Salama A.A.K., Caja G.,"Conditioned aversion to olive tree leaves (Olea europaea L.) in goats and sheep" 2010, Applied Animal Behaviour Science,128.

Maria Jesus Delgado | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>