A behavioural study of the Greek »Thrakian« sheep breed grazing on the rangelands of Rhodope, Greece
Abstract. The Greek Thrakian sheep breed is under extinction and information about their grazing behaviour is important to both welfare and performances. The grazing behaviour of the Thrakian sheep breed was investigated in the mountainous rangelands of North-Eastern Thrace, Greece from April to October 2012. Direct observations were carried out on six female sheep for two consecutive days at each month and the time spent on grazing, resting and rumination was recorded. Also, the daily distance travel by sheep flock was recorded with a handheld Global Positioning System. Sheep travelled on average 4.5 km/day and they walked their shortest distances during the summer months (July and August). Sheep spent 324.3 min/day (64.2 % of their grazing activities) on feeding while they devoted less time (P<0.05) to resting and ruminating (134.4 and 46.4 min/day, respectively). The higher values of resting and ruminating were recorded during summer (163.2 min/day and 54.2 min/day, respectively). Time spent on grazing by sheep had significant (P<0.05) negative relationship to air temperature (r=−0 .966) while the resting and ruminating time had a positive one (r=0.935; P<0.01 and r=0.815; P<0.05, respectively).