Llamas, alpacas and sheep graze jointly in many herds in the Andes. As foraging behaviour may be an important aspect of resource partitioning among camelids and sheep, activity budgets and feeding patterns during one wet and one dry season were quantified. We found that llamas generally spent more time (P < 0.05) at each feeding station than did alpacas and sheep. Bite rate differed (P < 0.05) among animal species with alpacas>llamas>sheep. Llamas and alpacas had greater (P < 0.05) total grazing times than sheep. However, llamas divided their grazing time evenly among tall, coarse bunchgrasses and low-growing grasses, while alpacas and sheep spent the majority of their grazing time consuming low-growing grasses and forbs. Camelids and sheep appear to occupy different foraging niches in the Andes. Llamas may be better adapted than alpacas and sheep to subsist on coarse forage in drier Andean regions as a consequence of their foraging behaviour.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded under the auspices of the USAID Small Ruminant Collaborative Research Program, Grant DSAN/XII-G-0049, in conjunction with Instituto Veterinario de Investigacion Tropicales y Altura, San Marcos University, Lima, Peru. We are grateful for the assistance rendered by Ing. Ramiro Farfan and Ing. Timoteo Huisa during the study.