How to Create Conditioned Taste Aversion for Grazing Ground Covers in Woody Crops with Small Ruminants

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Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is a learning behavior process where animals are trained to reject certain feed after gastrointestinal discomfort has been produced. Lithium chloride (LiCl) is the preferred agent used in livestock to induce CTA because it specifically stimulates the vomit center. In addition, LiCl is commercially available, and easy to prepare and administer using a drenching gun. Nevertheless, some factors have to be considered to obtain an effective long-lasting CTA, which allows small ruminants to graze during the cropping season. A key aspect is to use animals with no previous contact with the target plant (the plant chosen to be avoided; new feed). Due to their native neophobic feeding behavior, small ruminants can easily associate the negative feedback effects with the new feed, resulting in a strong and persistent CTA. The recommended doses are 200 and 225 mg LiCl/kg body weight (BW) for goats and sheep, respectively. To induce CTA, 100 g of the target plant should be individually offered for at least 30 min, and LiCl administered thereafter if the intake is greater than 10 g. Each time the animal eats the target plant without negative consequences, the CTA becomes weaker. Consequently, to minimize the risk of target plant consumption, it is essential to have sufficient palatable ground cover available. The presence of an alternative feed (of quality and quantity) prevents the accidental consumption of the target plant. A close monitoring of the flock is recommended to remove and re-dose any animal consuming more than 4 bites or 10 g of the target plant. At the beginning of each grazing season, check the CTA status of each animal before moving them to the crop.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number110
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2016


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