Goats avoid eating redberry juniper (Juniperus pinchottii Sudw.) when other palatable forages are available but will increase intake of juniper when exposed to the plant for several days. Intake of redberry juniper also differs among breeds and individual goats. Selection based on foraging habits could further improve juniper intake. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of sires on juniper consumption. Heritability of redberry juniper intake was assessed for 3 years (1997, 1998, 2000) by placing male Boer-Spanish cross goats from 4–8 sires (the number of sires differed among years) in individual pens and feeding juniper (200 g) daily for 2 hours over 5 to 10 days. Feeding juniper was done after weaning kid goats each year. Juniper intake was similar among sire groups within years. Heritability of juniper consumption was low (11%) across the 3 years of this study. Goats increased juniper intake daily while in individual pens. These results suggest that an acceptance of juniper by goats can be conditioned through exposure to the plant after weaning, and that juniper consumption does not appear to be a highly heritable trait.
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Vol. 58 • No. 3