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Introduction: Plant species as the primary producers of ecosystems and important structural components play a major role in the ecosystems sustainability as well as in feeding domestic and wildlife livestock. Determining the preference value of plant species is essential to maintain plant health and the balance of livestock in rangelands. Various plant species with different growth and phonological characteristics have different grazing values in rangelands. In addition to plant characteristics, livestock and regional conditions can also affect the preference value of plant species. Sheep and goat livestock are physiologically different, resulting in different behavior. Most studies have been dedicated to the preference value of species in summer rangeland, few studies have been considered winter rangelands. Therefore, the preference value of plant species of winter rangelands in the city of Jiroft for sheep and goats was investigated in this study.
Material and methods: The study region is located in winter rangeland of the the Baqher-Abad at 10 km from Jiroft. Preference value of vegetation species was carried out in two autumn and winter seasons for different age classes (one year old ewe, three year old ewe, five year old ewe) sheep and goat using filming method. For each age class, 3 livestock were selected and measured at a grazing time for one livestock for 1 hour. Then the relative grazing time of the target animal was calculated from each plant species. Two-way ANOVA and LSD test were used to study the effect of livestock type and age on the preference value of the species. One-way ANOVA was used to investigate the effect of seasonal grazing season and species on the preference value of species.
Results and discussion: The results showed that plant species for sheep and goat animals had different preference values. 64% of the species were identical for sheep and goats, and 36% of the species had a different palatability. Annual plants and Jaubertia aucheri species had the highest preference value for sheep and goats respectively. Ochradenus ochradeni had a very low preference value for sheep and goats, and livestock had the low tendency to consume it during the season grazing. However, the abundance of thorns in species of Lycium shawii, Acantholimon scorpius and Cornulaca monacantha has led to its predominant value reduction, so that the sheep do not consume Lycium shawii and Acantholimon scorpius. Cornulaca monacantha has a lower preference value for goats and sheep. Rhazya stricta as a poisonous plant did not exist in the sheep's diet, and the goats also had little desire. According to the results, the type of livestock has no significant effect on the preference value of the species Hammada salicornica which it has middle palatability for both sheep and goat. Although Ziziphus spina-christi was not grazed by sheep, it has the high preference value for goats. Hence, the three and five year old goats spend more time to graze Ziziphus spina-christi compared to one year old goats. Preference value of plant species significantly changed during the grazing season except for Jaubertia aucheri and Ochradenus ochradeni.
 Conclusion: Annual plants were included  high portion of sheep and goat diet in the winter rangeland in Jiroft. The production of annual species is highly dependent on climatic conditions, especially rainfall andis sharply reduced in the months of October and November..Young livestock, which does not have enough capability for grazing shrubs, needs supplemental diets in October and November . The Jaubertia aucheri, which has a high preference value for sheep and goats, has little fluctuations throughout the grazing season. This plant can play a very important role in the sustainable production of the region. Jaubertia aucheri should also be taken into account in conservation management plans, especially in the early part of the season grazing, because of the shortage of one-year-old plants, overgrazing may endanger this species.
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Range Management
Received: 2019/04/30 | Accepted: 2019/08/26

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