Articles | Volume 51, issue 5
10 Oct 2008
 | 10 Oct 2008

Comparative studies on the grazing behaviour of fallow deer and sheep in winter

A. Fischer, G. Schalitz, and A. Behrendt

Abstract. During two successive winter periods the ingestive behaviour of female fallow deer and Skudde mother sheep was observed during the day-light periods of a day in fourteen-day intervals. The animals were grouped together on an extensively used permanent fen pasture area with a stock of 0.5 large-animal units (which corresponds to 250 kg of animal living mass) per hectare. Sufficient quantities of fresh grass and hay were available.

The results obtained show that the animals maintained their species-specific ingestive behaviour despite common keeping. As compared to fallow deer, the sheep spent markedly longer time with ingestive activities. There were only rare instances of rivalry and conflict (over grazing positions or hay-feeding points) between the two species.

The animals of the two groups of species under examination are well adapted to the prevailing climatic conditions. They proved to be able to respond to extreme weather conditions as cold periods and snow storms. It can be rightfully stated that they are able to spend the winter in the open without harm to their health.

Outdoor keeping in the winter period can be regarded as suitable for fallow deer and Skudde sheep in northeast Germany.