An analysis of plant palatability on pastures of the delta: Case study, Danube Delta area, Romania


  • Simona D. CHIRILĂ Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development, Babadag Street no. 165, 820112, Tulcea (RO)
  • Ștefan RĂILEANU Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development, Babadag Street no. 165, 820112, Tulcea (RO)
  • Livia O. DAVID Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development, Babadag Street no. 165, 820112, Tulcea (RO)
  • Silviu COVALIOV Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development, Babadag Street no. 165, 820112, Tulcea (RO)
  • Mihai DOROFTEI Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development, Babadag Street no. 165, 820112, Tulcea (RO)



palatability class, parts used, plant condition, animal preference, Danube Delta


The palatability of a plant refers to the degree of attraction or preference that animals show toward that particular plant. Various factors can influence palatability, including the plant’s chemical composition, texture, taste, aromas, and the circumstances under which herbivorous animals consume it. The study aims to assess the plant species composition in grasslands and pastures within the Danube Delta, Romania. Both old or new references on palatability were considered. The evaluation of plant composition and degree of plant palatability was carried out in 12 grazing areas in the Danube Delta and the surrounding region. The study revealed 121 plant species identified in some pastures. Of these, 31 were “Non-Palatable”, 16 were “Highly Palatable”, 32 were “Mostly Palatable”, 16 were “Less Palatable”, and 26 were “Rarely Palatable”. Animals preferred 60 plant species in their fresh condition, with 29 preferred in fresh and dry. Most animals consumed whole plants (48 species), followed by leaves (43 species), fruits (three species), and inflorescences (two species). By analysing the feeding preferences of animals, it was found that cows exhibited a preference for the broadest range of plants (75 species), followed by sheep (67 species), goats (59 species), and horses (34 species).  Domestic animals like goats, sheep, cows, and horses may prefer certain plants based on nutritional content or digestibility while avoiding toxic plants. The study showed that the investigated areas have a diverse flora with a varied supply of plants, including palatable species. The palatability index is essential in assessing the quality of pastures, especially in obtaining average daily gains based on the species of animals living on the pastures. Considering the dynamic climatic conditions and poor pasture quality in the Danube Delta, more detailed and interdisciplinary studies are needed to understand the deltaic biocenoses comprehensively.


Abdullah M, Rafay M, Hussain T, Ahmad H, Tahir U, Rasheed F, ... Khalil S (2017). Nutritive potential and palatability preference of browse foliage by livestock in arid rangelands of Cholistan desert (Pakistan). Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences 27(5):1656-1664.

Abu-Alrub I, Marcum KB, Kabir N, Ahmed A, Al Hammadi M (2018). Productivity and nutritional value of four forage grass cultivars compared to Rhodes grass irrigated with saline water. Australian Journal of Crop Science 12(2):203-209. https://10.21475/ajcs.18.12.02.pne571

Amjad MS, Arshad M, Fatima S, Mumtaz N (2013). Palatability and animal preferences of plants in tehsil Nikyal, district Kotli, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Pakistan. Annual Research & Review in Biology 4(6):953-961.

Anderson RC (1994). Height of white-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) as an index of deer browsing intensity. Ecological Applications 4:104-109.

Archer S, Smeins FE (1991). Ecosystem-level processes. In: Heitschmidt RK, Stuth JW (Eds). Grazing Management: An Ecological Perspective. Timber Press: Portland, OR, USA, pp 109-139.

Badshah L, Hussain F (2011). People preferences and use of local medicinal flora in District Tank, Pakistan. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 5(1):22-29.

Bagheri H, Adnani A, Tavili A (2007). Studying the relationship between livestock and plant composition case study: semi-steppic ranges of vesf-qom province. Pajouhesh and Sazandegi 20(1).

Baluška F, Mancuso S (2020). Plants, climate, and humans: plant intelligence changes everything. EMBO reports 21(3):e50109.

Burritt EA (2011). Palatability-more than a matter of taste. pp. 1-3.

Casey NH, Van Niekerk WA (1988). The Boer Goat I. Origin, adaptability, performance testing, reproduction, and milk production. Small Ruminant Research 1:291–302.

Chebli Y, Chentouf M, Cabaraux JF, El Otmani S (2023). Floristic composition, diversity, palatability, and forage availability of forest rangelands in the Southern Mediterranean Region of Northern Morocco. Land 12(1):215.

Cory VL (1930). Methods of determining forage preferences of stock. Ecology 11:760-763.

Dasmann WP (1949). Deer-livestock forage studies on the interstate winter deer range in California. Rangeland Ecology & Management/Journal of Range Management Archives 2(4):206-212.

Divekar PA, Narayana S, Divekar BA, Kumar R, Gadratagi BG, Ray A, ... Behera TK (2022). Plant secondary metabolites as defense tools against herbivores for sustainable crop protection. International journal of molecular sciences 23(5):2690.

Dostálek T, Rokaya MB, Münzbergová Z (2020). Plant palatability and trait responses to experimental warming. Scientific Reports 10(1):10526.

El Otmani S, Chebli Y, Chentouf M, Hornick JL, Cabaraux JF (2021). Effects of Olive Cake and Cactus Cladodes as Alternative Feed Resources on Goat Milk Production and Quality. Agriculture 11:3.

EURO+MED (2023). URL:

Fick SE, Hijmans RJ (2017). Worldclim 2: New 1-km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology 37:14.

Fraser MD, Vallin HE, Roberts BP (2022). Animal board invited review: Grassland-based livestock farming and biodiversity. Animal 100671.

Godde CM, Mason-D’Croz D, Mayberry DE, Thornton PK, Herrero M (2021). Impacts of climate change on the livestock food supply chain; a review of the evidence. Global Food Security 28:100488.

Gorade PD, Datar MN (2014). Checklist of palatable grass species from peninsular India. Notulae Scientia Biologicae 6(4):441-447.

Grünwaldt EG, Pedrani AR, Vich AI (1994). Goat grazing in the arid piedmont of Argentina. Small Ruminant Research 13(3):211-216.

Haq A, Badshah L (2023). Palatability status and animals’ preference forage plants in Pashat Valley, Pak-Afghan border, District Bajaur, Pakistan. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 26:1-22.

Heady HF (1964). Palatability of herbage and animal preference. Journal of Range Management 17:76-82.

Heady HF, Torell DT (1959). Forage preference exhibited by sheep with esophageal fistulas. Rangeland Ecology & Management/Journal of Range Management Archives 12(1):28-34.

Heath Me, Barnes Rf, Metcalfe Ds (1985). Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture. Iowa State University, Aimes.

Hodgson J (1979). Nomenclature and definitions in grazing studies. Grass and forage science 34(1):11-17.

Hussain F, Durrani M (2009). Seasonal availability, palatability, and animal preferences of forage plants in Harboi arid range land, Kalat, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Botany 41(2):539-554.

Hussain F, Durrani Mj (2008). Mineral composition of some range grasses and shrubs from Harboi rangeland Kalat, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Botany 40(6):2513-2523.

Ibrahim M, Hussain I, Hussain N, Hameed A, Farooq T, Hussain A. ... Hussain S (2016). Amberinone, a new guaianolide from Amberboa ramosa. Natural product research 30(1):110-114.

Kayani SA, Masood A, Achakzai AKK, Anbreen S (2007). Distribution of secondary metabolites in plants of Quetta-Balochistan. Pakistan Journal of Botany 39(4):1173.

Khan M, Hussain F (2012). Palatability and animal preferences of plants in Tehsil Takht-e-Nasrati, District Karak, Pakistan. African Journal of Agricultural Research 7(44):5858-5872.

Kochare T, Tamir B, Kechero Y (2018). Palatability and animal preferences of plants in small and fragmented land holdings: The case of Wolayta Zone, Southern Ethiopia. Agricultural Research & Technology 14:55-59.

Lyons RK, Hanselka CW (2001). Grazing and browsing: how plants are affected. Texas FARMER Collection.

Macheroum A, Chenchouni H (2022). Short-term land degradation driven by livestock grazing does not affect soil properties in semiarid steppe rangelands. Frontiers in Environmental Science 10:846045.

Marques MC, Roper JJ, Baggio Salvalaggio AP (2004). Phenological patterns among plant life forms in a subtropical forest in southern Brazil. Plant Ecology 173:203-213.

Molina-Alcaide E, Yáñez-Ruiz DR (2008). Potential use of olive by-products in ruminant feeding: A review. Animal Feed Science and Technology 147(1-3):247-264.

National Research Council (2006). Nutrient requirements of dogs and cats. National Academies Press.

Nyamangara ME, Ndlovu LR (1995). Feeding behavior, feed intake, chemical and botanical composition of the diet of indigenous goats raised on natural vegetation in a semiarid region of Zimbabwe. The Journal of Agricultural Science 124(3):455-461.

Pálková K, Lepš J (2008). Positive relationship between plant palatability and litter decomposition in meadow plants. Community Ecology 9(1):17-27.

Parsons AJ, Newman JA, Penning PD, Harvey A, Orr RJ (1994). Diet preference of sheep: effects of recent diet, physiological state and species abundance. Journal of Animal Ecology 63:465-478.

QGIS Development Team (2023). Geographic Information System API Documentation. QGIS Association.

Raufirad V, Azadi H, Ebrahimi A, Bagheri S (2016). Determining rangeland species palatability: application of principal component analysis. Rangelands 38(3):105-112.

Raufirad V, Ebrahimi A, Azadi H (2015). Animal preference and external plant attributes: application of principle component analysis. Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences 6(1):22-33.

Rutter SM (2006). Diet preference for grass and legumes in free-ranging domestic sheep and cattle: Current theory and future application. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 97(1):17-35.

Shaheen H, Qureshi R, Akram A, Gulfraz M (2014). Inventory of medicinal flora from Thal desert, Punjab, Pakistan. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 11(3):282-290.

Stolter C, Joubert DF, Uunona N, Nghalipo E, Amputu V, Felton AM (2022). Effect of fire on the palatability of plants in an African woodland savanna: varying impacts depending on plant functional groups. PeerJ 10:e12721.

Tadele Y (2015). Important anti-nutritional substances and inherent toxicants of feeds. Food Science and Quality Management 36:40-47.

Ulian T, Diazgranados M, Pironon S, Padulosi S, Liu U, Davies L, ... Mattana E (2020). Unlocking plant resources to support food security and promote sustainable agriculture. Plants, People, Planet 2(5):421-445.

Ullah I, Khan RU, Khan SU, Ullah M (2018). Palatability and animal preferences of plants in rain-fed area. International Journal of Biology and Biotechnology 15(2):369-381.




How to Cite

CHIRILĂ, S. D., RĂILEANU, Ștefan, DAVID, L. O., COVALIOV, S., & DOROFTEI, M. (2024). An analysis of plant palatability on pastures of the delta: Case study, Danube Delta area, Romania. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 52(1), 13568.



Research Articles
DOI: 10.15835/nbha52113568