Foraging behavior and training livestock to eat weeds

Dr. Darrell Emmick demonstrated forage height.

Dr. Darrell Emmick described animals’ reactions to tall forage.

Dr. Darrell Emmick shared his experience with animal foraging behavior and explained how to train livestock to eat weeds.

Animals learn what to eat through the interactions of two interrelated systems: affective and cognitive. The affective system operates without any conscious thought using feedback from osmotic, chemical, and mechanical receptors within the gut to evaluate the chemical and nutritional composition of foods eaten. This is ‘Post ingestive feedback.’ If they feel good or energized after eating a certain food, they will eat it again. If they feel uncomfortable, bloated or sick afterwards, they are not likely to eat that food or plant again.

The cognitive system uses information gained through the senses of sight, smell, touch, and taste, as well as social learning. Generally, babies eat what they see their moms eat. Animals also learn from other adventurous animals in their herd or group. [Read more here]

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About Sanne Kure-Jensen

Sanne Kure-Jensen is a frequent contributor to Country Folks, Country Folks Grower and Wine & Grape Grower bringing regional and national attention to agriculture in RI and across southern New England. She has also written for newsletters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Holistic Management International (HMI), RI Beekeepers Association and RI Tree Council. Read Sanne’s work at her Sustainable Living page at examiner.com. Sanne has written successful grant applications for alternative energy projects, staff and board training, products and services. Clients include agricultural businesses, farm stand/markets and non-profit organizations. Recent successful grant projects include a $90,000 USDA Rural Development‘s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP), $10,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer and $20,000 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Sanne is the part-time Administrator for NOFA/RI, a Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist and beekeeper. She is a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional and has lectured across southern New England on Beekeeping, Native Pollinators and Ecological Landscape Design. Learn more about the NOFA’s Land Care programs or contact Sanne for a garden consultation through the NOFA/RI website.
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