Continuous exposure to an aversive mixture was investigated as a means of maintaining aversion to vermeerbos in sheep subjected to the social influence of non-averted sheep. The use of an aversive mixture was based on a hypothesis that continuous exposure to an acceptable aversive mixture (containing both the aversive substance and the identification factors of vermeerbos mixed with maize meal) would tempt sheep to consume small quantities of the aversive mixture each day and that this would keep them averted to vermeerbos, despite the social influence of non-averted sheep. Persistent aversion to a vermeerbos-maize meal mixture (1:99 by mass) by sheep continuously exposed to such an aversive mixture, after an initial aversion conditioning with lithium chloride (LiCl, 160 mg/kg BM), was demonstrated. Aversion in adjacent controls not exposed to the aversive mixture only lasted for some time. A similar result was obtained when sheep were challenged for intake of a pure stand of established vermeerbos. Three sheep continuously exposed to an aversive mixture after an initial aversion conditioning totally refused grazing the vermeerbos during a 42-day trial, despite the social influence of three non-averted control sheep grazing vermeerbos on an adjacent site. These results were confirmed by a second replication the following year. Joint grazing for an hour a day by averted and non-averted sheep during the last seven days of this replication also resulted in total avoidance of vermeerbos by the averted animals, despite continued intake of vermeerbos by the control sheep.
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