Document Type: Research Paper
Rangeland Management Department, Faculty of Natural Resources and Marine Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Mazanderan Province, Noor, Iran
URU 420 - Université de Rennes 1, UMR 7204 – Muséum National d’Histoire National, 263 Avenue du Général Leclerc, CS 74205, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France
In order to estimate the relationship between forage quality and preference value of plant species for Raini goats
(Capra aegagrus hircus), a field study was carried out on Raini goats’ grazing behavior in some desert habitats.
Crude protein (as the most important factor affecting forage quality) of all plant species was measured at two
phenological stages (spring and summer, 2010) in the dry rangeland of Talkhabad, Iran. In addition, the preference
value of plant species by free-ranging goats was estimated by visual estimation during the two seasons. One-way
ANOVA and paired t-test revealed that forage quality and preference value by goats differed among plant species and
between seasons. There was no significant relationship between forage quality and preference value (linear regression
and Pearson correlation). Only a few plant species had both high quality and high preference (e.g., Taverniera
cuneifolia). An interesting outcome was the importance of minor low-quality feeds such as Ziziphus spina-christ fruit
in the goats’ diet. Raini goats were also highly selective feeders, changing their diet from grazing to browsing and
vice versa, which highlights the importance of diversified botanical structures and the preservation of shrubs and trees
in their desert habitats.