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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376915

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Influence of rainfall events on drinker visitation patterns by beef cows on desert rangeland

item NYAMURYEKUNG'E, SHELEMIA - New Mexico State University
item DAWES, ADRIENNE - New Mexico State University
item MCINTOSH, MATTHEW - New Mexico State University
item CIBILS, ANDRES - New Mexico State University
item Estell, Richard - Rick
item Gonzalez, Alfredo
item Spiegal, Sheri

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/14/2019
Publication Date: 2/17/2020
Citation: Nyamuryekung'e, S., Dawes, A., McIntosh, M., Cibils, A., Estell, R.E., Gonzalez, A.L., Spiegal, S.A. 2020. Influence of rainfall events on drinker visitation patterns by beef cows on desert rangeland [abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting. February 17-20, 2020, Denver, Colorado. #28

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: We sought to compare drinker visitation patterns of Angus x Hereford and Raramuri Criollo on days with precipitation events (PE, n= 13) vs days with no precipitation (NP, n= 106) in extensive Chihuahuan Desert pastures at the Jornada Experimental Range during summer and winter of 2016 and 2017. In all seasons and years, each breed (n = 11 cows/breed/season) grazed two adjacent pastures (1190, 1165 ha) separately for 4-weeks in a crossover design. Position of 7-9 randomly selected cows/breed/trial was logged every 10 min using Lotek 3300-LR GPS collars. Precipitation was recorded by a rain gauge 3 km away from our study pastures. We calculated time spent within 200, 100, and 50 m of a drinker per day for all trial dates (n= 119) and treated individual cows as experimental units. Breed did not influence time spent near the drinker. On days with PE, cows spent detectably less time within 200m (PE= 11.98 vs NP= 56.97 min, P < 0.01), 100m (PE= 6.47 vs NP= 31.86 min, P < 0.01), and 50m (PE= 2.92 vs NP= 9.63 min, P < 0.01) of the drinkers. Cows spent more time within 200m (P=0.01) and 100m (P<0.01) of the drinkers in summer vs. winter. We found no rainfall*breed nor rainfall*season*breed interaction. Our preliminary results suggest that precipitation events influence drinker visitation patterns regardless of breed or season likely due to the availability of ephemeral watering sources. A decreased need to travel to the drinker on days with precipitation events likely influences spatial distribution patterns of cattle. Further research is needed to determine how frequency and size of precipitation events shapes landscape use patterns of cattle on desert rangelands.