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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #215288

Title: Measures of daily distribution patterns of cow calf pairs using global positioning systems on both cows and calves

item COX, SHAD
item Frederickson, Eddie

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2007
Publication Date: 1/26/2008
Citation: Wesley, R.L., Cibils, A.F., Pollak, E.R., Cox, S.H., Mulliniks, T., Petersen, M.K., Fredrickson, E.L. 2008. Measures of daily distribution patterns of cow calf pairs using global positioning systems on both cows and calves [abstract]. Society for Range Management, Building Bridges: Grasslands to Rangelands, January 26-31, 2008, Louisville, Kentucky. p. 2186. 2008 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: GPS collars were used to describe the daily distribution patterns of cows and their calves from 18 to 60 days postpartum on pinyon juniper-shortgrass rangeland in central New Mexico. Eighteen, 3 year old cows and their calves were fitted weekly with GPS collars for seven consecutive weeks. Twenty days with cow calf pair location data for at least 48 consecutive hours were randomly selected. Daily area explored was estimated using the area of the 90% volume contour predicted with Kernel Analysis in the animal movements extension of ArcVeiw GIS 3.3. Cows daily distance traveled ranged from 2.7 to 6.2 km and they explored between 4.5 and 28.5ha day-1. Calves traveled between 2.2 and 6.1 km day-1 while exploring areas ranging from 1.3 to 16.7ha, of which an average of 5.5 ± 2.9ha overlapped with the area explored by its mother. Neither daily distance traveled nor area explored by the cow were correlated with calf age, but calves tended to travel longer distances and explore larger areas with increasing age (r=0.37, P= 0.10 and r=0.38, P=0.10, respectively). Cows visited water 85%, and calves 15%, of the days sampled. Average distance from water was 0.8 ± 0.21 km for cows and calves and was positively correlated for both with calf age (r=0.53, P=0.02 and r =0.57, P=0.01 respectively), as was maximum distance traveled from water (r=0.36, P=0.11, and r=0.47, P=0.03, respectively). Cows spent between 4.4 and 15.1 hours total, but never more than 8.3 hours in one event, farther than 100m away from their calves in any 24 hour period. Maximum distance between a calf and its mother was positively correlated with age (r=.50, P=0.02). Search patterns of cows (ratio between daily distance traveled and daily area explored) became considerably more concentrated when they remained in the proximity of their calves.