175 GPS Tracking Collars and Accelerometers Provide Detailed Tracking of Foraging Behavior and Space Use in Grazing Steers in Bermudagrass and Tall Fescue Pasture Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Previous research in feedlot studies has demonstrated that cattle feeding behavior is driven by internal metabolic processes and external environmental stimuli and serves as an indicator of animal health, nutritional status, and growth and feed quality and availability. However, technology has only recently allowed measurement of foraging behavior in grazing cattle. Objectives of this study were to measure frequency and duration of foraging bouts, meals, and total distance traveled during meals in grazing steers. The study was conducted as part of a larger grazing study on a 10-hectare Bermudagrass and Tall Fescue pasture, overseeded with Annual Ryegrass, located at the HH Leveck Animal Research Center, Mississippi State, MS. Using tri-axial accelerometers and GPS information from 10 crossbred steers, we examined foraging and meal bout frequency and duration and distance and speed traveled per meal for the period of March 2019. Observed animal behavior was used to train a randomforest model to predict foraging behavior, with model accuracy and sensitivity of 0.95 and 0.93, respectively. We found individual foraging bouts occurred on average 2,849 bouts per day and took on average 5.0 1.8 min (range: 39 min), and that steers fed on average 205 52.8 min/day (range: 120270 min/day). Steers had an average of 9.5 2.9 meals/day, that took on average, 89.3 93.9 min/meal (range: 0.5938.5 min/meal). Steers traveled an average of 412.4 93.9 meters per meal, with an average foraging speed between 0 and 0.63 m/s. Traveling distance while foraging was positively correlated with meal length (0.83, P > 0.01) and foraging speed (0.70, P > 0.01). These results show that cattle grazing behavior can be accurately quantified in grazing cattle and warrants further research to examine associations between animal efficiency and performance, forage quality, and pasture management.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Animal Science

author list (cited authors)

  • Parsons, I. L., Karisch, B. B., Webb, S. L., Stone, A. E., Catrett, C. C., Dentinger, J. E., Norman, D. A., & Street, G.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • October 2021