Nutritional Quality of Herbaceous Vegetation in a Phryganic Mediterranean Ecosystem During the Grazing Period
Grazing is an economically and environmentally valuable activity in phryganic Mediterranean ecosystems. The herbaceous vegetation of these ecosystems provides an essential feed source for grazing ruminants. Despite the extension and economic importance of phryganic ecosystems in Mediterranean Basin there has been relatively little scientific focus on nutritional quality of their herbaceous vegetation. The nutritional quality of herbaceous vegetation in a phryganic ecosystem was assessed for two consecutive years during the grazing period (March to July). Herbage samples were analysed for chemical composition, metabolizable energy, in vitro dry matter digestibility, in vitro neutral detergent fiber digestibility and mineral content (Ca, P, K, Mg) at monthly basis. According to the results time of harvest significantly affected crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, lignin and the content of minerals (i.e. Ca, P, Mg, K). Mean monthly temperature found to have a great negative impact on nutritional quality. During the grazing period, the nutritional quality of herbage vegetation was strongly correlated with growing degree days. Over a threshold of about 700 growing degree days the nutritional quality of herbage dramatically decreased. Overall the current study provides crucial information for the nutritional dynamics of the herbage vegetation of the phryganic Mediterranean ecosystems that can be towards developing an efficient grazing strategy.
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