Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/30/2003
Publication Date: 1/24/2004
Citation: GANSKOPP, D.C., BOHNERT, D. 2004. DO SPATIAL NUTRITIONAL PATTERNS AT LANDSCAPE LEVELS AFFECT BEEF CATTLE DISTRIBUTION?. SOCIETY FOR RANGE MANAGEMENT MEETING ABSTRACTS.
Technical Abstract: At conservative stocking rates, cattle reluctantly forage upon grasses supporting cured stems from previous years. Forage conditioning (via fire, heavy grazing, or mowing) removes these materials and enhances acceptance of forage by stock. Our goal was to quantify livestock distribution and nutrition in pastures supporting stands of both wolfy and non-wolfy grasses. One-half of each of 4 paddocks was conditioned by high intensity grazing in year 1. The remaining half was rested (unconditioned). Cattle distribution was quantified with GPS collars, and diet quality assayed with rumen cannulated steers in a grazing trial in year 2 (May-June). Of total time at pasture, cattle occupied conditioned (201 kg ha-1) and unconditioned (543 kg ha-1) sectors 61 and 39% of the time, respectively. While grazing, 68 and 32% of the observations were in conditioned and unconditioned sections, respectively. CP of cured grasses was 2%, current seasons' growth 11%, and standing crop 6.5% in the wolfy sectors. Cannulated steers confined to treatments exhibited dietary CP's averaging 13.5% with no difference between treatments. While cattle prefer foraging among conditioned grasses, they can at least initially sustain a high plain of nutrition in unconditioned stands via selective grazing. Recent nutritional mapping of a larger pasture (400 ha) and examination of livestock distribution patterns therein, suggest that landscape nutritional characteristic affect patterns of livestock use at landscape levels.