Sequential analysis of cattle location: Day-to-day movement patterns Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Studies were conducted in Texas and Colorado to determine if there were consistent movement patterns of grazing cattle. Based on optimal foraging theory, we hypothesized that cattle would select the same area of a pasture to graze for several days in a row. In the Colorado study, the location of cattle was observed each morning for 6 weeks. The 50-ha pasture was separated into 10 sections. The calculated number of cattle that moved from one section to another was analyzed using a transition matrix. Cattle were rarely observed in the same section of the pasture on two successive mornings. In the Texas study, the location of cattle after they began grazing was observed each morning for eight seasonal trials lasting 6-15 days. The 248-ha pasture was divided into 63 units based on plant community, slope, aspect, elevation and distance from water. Cluster analysis was used to group these units into five separate areas. Clusters were based on the amount of grazing in each unit during the trials. The number of cattle that moved from one area to another during successive mornings (calculated from expected values) was analyzed using a transition matrix. Separate analyses were made for spring, summer and winter periods. There was no consistent movement pattern across all seasons. Cattle seldom grazed in the same area for more than two successive mornings. The transitions on successive mornings from areas separated by the greatest distance generally occurred less often than expected by chance. The hypothesis that cattle would select the same area to graze for several successive mornings was rejected. In both studies, cattle appeared to graze nearby areas on the following morning. © 1990.

author list (cited authors)

  • Bailey, D. W., Walker, J. W., & Rittenhouse, L. R.

citation count

  • 20

publication date

  • January 1990