Xerothermic grassland as a source of forage for small ruminants
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High nature value (HNV) areas may be a potential source of forage for livestock. Xerothermic grassland (thermophilic communities of marginal land on calcareous soils) in Polish conditions is an example of a possible compromise between livestock farming and active nature conservation because using them as a forage source supports their effective protection against degradation. Among HNV areas, Natura 2000 sites are a significant part of permanent grassland representing a variety of habitats and communities. This study was aimed at determining the fodder potential of grassland communities of the type of xerothermic grasslands on which various forms of protection were implemented. Field and laboratory research was carried out in the years 2016 - 2017. Representative points were determined on the paddocks from which samples were taken for testing in three replications. The productivity and rate of use of sward by animals were studied. The basic feed quality parameters were determined, i.e. energy, fibre, protein and sugar contents, as well as digestibility of dry matter (DM). The fodder quality of xerothermic sward in areas where active protection is kept is sufficient for extensive grazing of sheep and goats. The variable fibre content of plants may be a limiting factor in the use of forage by animals. A high diversity of botanical composition and DM yield requires further research to precisely determine their utility value.
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