Annual diets of hill sheep and feral goats in southern Scotland.
Using faecal anlaysis, the annual diets of hill sheep (Ovis aries) and feral goats (Capra hircus) were estimated for 3 areas of the Scottish Southern Uplands where they coexist. At 2 sites where goat density was relatively low, sheep ate consistently more grass than did goats. Goats at these sites utilized rushes, ferns, woody shrubs and conifers more than did sheep. At the third site, where goat density was relatively high, dietary overlap was also relatively high. Recently, feral goat populations on British uplands have attracted commercial interests because of their potential ability to control rushes on sheep pasture and because of their high-quality wool fibre. The potential for food competition between hill sheep and feral goats, as judged by the degree of dietary overlap, could be offset against the potential economic gain from goats.