Cattle behavior and distribution on the San Joaquin Experimental Range in the foothills of central California Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qr46r4089

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  • Small herds of cows were observed and spatially mapped over continuous twenty-four hour periods. Treatments were implemented that investigated the effect of water site and supplementation on animal distribution patterns. A series of six observation periods constituted each observation series. Observation series were repeated winter (January) and summer (July) for two years. Forage conditions varied considerably between years and seasons. Three regression models for different periods related forage variables to animal use with R² values ranging from 0.51 to 0.77. A spatial point analysis, Ripley's K, also discerned differences in spatial point arrangements related to differences in forage and season. It detected and quantified changes caused by locating a high-protein supplement in the pasture. Swale sites and slopes of less than 10 percent were preferred for grazing in all seasons. Water sources and shade trees were distribution focal points for three observation series. In the winter of 1998, animals spent more time on warmer sites. We recorded more cow activity and movement at night than other researchers. Resting areas had aspect and elevation attributes that relate to temperature regulation. Animal positions were analyzed to determine cattle subgroups. Forage availability and thermoregulatory needs influenced the distance between associated members. Social dominance and subgroup membership were closely related to the age of individual animals. A geographic information system based technique called multi-criteria evaluation was used to develop temporal/spatial models predicting cattle distribution across the landscape. Summer models worked better than winter models because water sources and shade sites were more consistent as focal points for cattle activities.
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