Location: Range Management ResearchTitle: Foraging behavior of heritage vs commercial rangeland beef cows in relation to dam-offspring contact patterns
|NYAMURYEKUNG'E, SHELEMIA - New Mexico State University|
|CIBILS, ANDRES - New Mexico State University|
|Estell, Richard - Rick|
|MCINTOSH, MATTHWEW - New Mexico State University|
|STEELE, CATRIANA - New Mexico State University|
|CONTINANZA, FATIMA - National Institute Of Agricultural Technology(INTA)|
Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2020
Publication Date: 1/1/2021
Publication URL: https://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/7203926
Citation: Nyamuryekung'e, S., Cibils, A.F., Estell, R.E., McIntosh, M., Steele, C., Gonzalez, A.L., Spiegal, S.A., Continanza, F. 2021. Foraging behavior of heritage vs commercial rangeland beef cows in relation to dam-offspring contact patterns. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 74:43-49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2020.11.001.
Interpretive Summary: Ranchers of the Southwestern United States demonstrate a remarkable capacity to adapt to weather variability, but projected extreme heat and drought could force ranching systems beyond their historical coping ranges. Use of Raramuri Criollo is one of several strategies that may help ranchers adapt to drier and hotter climates of the Southwest, which are correlated with less grass, more shrubs, and increased vulnerability to animal diseases. The behavioral, physiological and/or morphological characteristics of Raramuri Criollo may be one of several possible factors responsible for its widespread grazing distribution observed in independent studies. To explore this hypothesis, we compared cow-calf contacts as well as movement, activity and pasture use patterns of heritage Raramuri Criollo and commercial Angus Hereford crossbred beef cattle grazing Chihuahuan Desert pastures during four weeks in the summers of 2016 and 2017. We documented significant differences in foraging behavior of cows and calves of heritage vs. commercial beef breeds that were apparently associated with the mothering style of each breed. Young Raramuri Criollo calves apparently imposed fewer constraints on their dam’s movement patterns compared to offspring of the commercial breed. This difference could contribute to the conservation value of RC cattle that are able to disperse grazing pressure across the landscape and reduce degradation associated with improper spatial distribution.
Technical Abstract: We compared cow-calf contacts and movement, activity, and pasture use patterns of heritage Raramuri Criollo (RC) and commercial Angus Hereford crossbred (AH) beef cattle grazing Chihuahuan Desert pastures during the summers of 2016 and 2017. Within each herd of eleven cow-calf pairs, a group of seven to nine randomly selected cows were fitted with GPS collars that recorded animal position at 10-min intervals. Proximity loggers configured to record contact events (< 1 m radius) were fitted on a subset of five cow-calf pairs of each breed. The effect of breed on cow-calf contacts, as well as the dams’ movement, activity, and pasture use patterns were analyzed via mixed ANOVA models. A higher number of RC cow-calf contacts occurred while the dam was grazing and traveling compared to AH counterparts (P = 0.05). No breedrelated differences were observed in the overall number and duration of cow-calf contact events. Compared to AH dams, RC cows traveled farther each day (RC: 7.51 vs. AH: 4.85 km, P < 0.01) at higher movement velocities (5.46 vs. 3.53 m. min-1, P < 0.01), and spent more time traveling (1.05 vs. 0.48 h, P < 0.01), more time grazing (9.37 vs. 7.45 h, P < 0.01), and less time resting (13.07 vs. 15.68 h, P < 0.01). RC cows explored almost three times more daily area than AH (152.30 vs. 57.69 ha, P = 0.01) but spent similar amounts of time within 200 and 100m of a drinker. RC calves explored larger daily areas than their AH counterparts (83.0 vs. 20.8 ha, P = 0.05), but no breed differences were detected in the number of contact events near drinkers. Raramuri Criollo calves possibly impose fewer constraints on their dams’ movement and activity patterns compared to commonly used British crossbreds when grazing the Chihuahuan Desert during summer.