Temperature influences on cattle distribution and behavior in the central California foothills Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/zs25xc770

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  • The effect of temperature on cattle behavior and distribution was studied in the foothills of California. To accurately understand changes in livestock behavior and distribution, five seasonal trials, each spanning three to four weeks were conducted beginning spring 2004 and ending spring 2005. The two spring trials and the fall trial occurred during times when cattle likely experienced thermal neutral conditions. Summer and winter temperatures may have induced thermal stress. Temperatures were recorded by sensors positioned across the landscape to facilitate spatial modeling of thermal fluctuations. Cattle locations and activities were quantified from direct observations and global positioning system collars. Temperatures across the pasture were mapped and compared to temperatures at cattle locations at 15 minute intervals. The data were assessed seasonally using 24 one-hour intervals and a modified general linear model. Other factors affecting livestock distribution accounted for included: vegetation quantity and quality, slope, aspect, stock water locations, supplement placement, and the social influences of livestock. Activity of cattle was indexed from velocity measures for each 15 minute interval. There were specific times during each of the trials when cattle activity and distribution were influenced by temperature. Generally temperature effects expressed themselves during the coldest (0100 to 0500) and warmest (1000 to 0300) portions of the day. During each season and hourly interval, individuals in the herd tended to engage in similar activities at similar locations. This trend was consistent within seasons, but diurnal patterns varied among seasons. This research suggested cattle have set daily patterns which change seasonally in response to vegetation quantity, quality, thermal needs, and pasture dynamics.
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