Grazing Management and Microclimate Effects on Cattle Distribution Relative to a Cool Season Pasture Stream
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CitationHaan, M. M., Russell, J. R., Davis, J. D., & Morrical, D. G. (2010). Grazing management and microclimate effects on cattle distribution relative to a cool season pasture stream. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 63(5), 572-580.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractBecause of concerns about the impact of grazing management on surface water quality, a 3-yr study was conducted to determine grazing management and microclimate impacts on cattle distribution relative to a pasture stream and shade. Three treatments, continuous stocking with unrestricted stream access (CSU), continuous stocking with restricted stream access (CSR), and rotational stocking (RS), were evaluated on six 12.1-ha cool-season grass pastures stocked with 15 fall-calving Angus cows (Bos taurus L.) from mid-May through mid-October of each year. On 2 d mo-1 from May through September of each year, a trained observer in each pasture recorded cattle position and activity every 10 min from 0600 to 1800 hours. In years 2 and 3, position of one cow per pasture was recorded with a Global Positioning System (GPS) collar at 10-min intervals 24 h d-1 for 2 wk mo-1 from May through September. In week 2 of collar deployment in May, July, and September, cattle had access to off-stream water. Ambient temperature, black globe temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed were recorded at 10-min intervals and temperature humidity (THI), black globe temperature humidity (BGTHI), and heat load (HLI) indices were calculated. Based on GPS collars, mean percentage of time cows in CSU pastures were in the stream (1.1%) and streamside zone (10.5%) were greater (P < 0.05) than cows in CSR (0.2% and 1.8%) or RS (0.1% and 1.5%) pastures. Based on GPS collar data, off-stream water did not affect the percentage of time cattle in CSU or CSR pastures spent in the stream. Probabilities that cattle in CSU and CSR pastures were in the stream or riparian zones increased (P < 0.05) as ambient temperature, black globe temperature, THI, BGTHI, and HLI increased. Rotational stocking and restricted stream access were effective strategies to decrease the amount of time cattle spent in or near a pasture stream.