Behaviour of sheep freely grazed on Gokceada Island (Turkey) rangeland reclaimed by different methods

TÖLÜ C., Alaturk F., Parlak A. O., Gokkus A.

JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE, vol.155, no.6, pp.993-1004, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 155 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s0021859617000132
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.993-1004
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Extensive sheep and goat farming is common in the rangelands of Gokceada Island, NW Turkey. The aim of the current study was to investigate the behaviour of indigenous Gokceada sheep over these rangelands and factors influencing their behavioural characteristics. Grubbing (with chisel ploughing to a depth of 20 cm), burning (the entire top part of plants) and cutting (10-15 cm stalk on the surface of the soil) were carried out on selected rangeland to reduce prickly burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum (L.) Spach) from the vegetative covering, then forage crop seeds were sown to improve plant cover. Forty head of Gokceada-bred sheep were placed in eight fenced plots (half seeded, half unseeded) on reclaimed and natural rangeland for 2 years. Sheep behaviour was observed for a period of 1 year. Each plot was arranged with a stocking rate of 267 sheep/ha and contained five sheep that grazed freely within each plot. Sheep behaviour was observed diurnally through direct observation by time sampling (10 min) and continuous sampling methods. During the period of 1 year, the observed sheep spent an average of 053 of their time grazing in daylight, 030 of their time in rangelands on other activities and 017 in the paddocks. Significant differences were observed in the time of grazing, resting, locomotion and rumination by season. The highest grazing ratio was noticed in spring while the lowest was in summer. Sheep exhibited walking behaviour 106 times/day. The sheep mostly (066) grazed on prickly burnet throughout the year although, when available, they tended to prefer herbaceous plants. The behaviour of sheep in the two natural (unreclaimed) plots was significantly different from those placed in other plots, mainly due to the mass of prickly burnet shrub found in the natural plots.