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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #386897

Research Project: Restoration and Conservation of Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Effects of virtual fence monitored by GPS collar on beef cattle behavior

item RANCHES, JULIANA - Oregon State University
item O'Connor, Rory
item JOHNSON, DUSTIN - Oregon State University
item Davies, Kirk
item Bates, Jonathan - Jon
item Boyd, Chad
item BOHNERT, DAVID - Oregon State University
item PARKER, TODD - Vence Corp

Submitted to: Translational Animal Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/27/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: In the world of precision agriculture, cattle operations are looking for solutions that improve cattle health and behavior while minimizing operating costs. In a study at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range in Eastern Oregon eleven mature beef cows were fit with virtual fence GPS collars to observe how the cattle respond to auditory and electric stimuli. The purpose of the study was to observe how the cows react when entering management zones and how that informs the cows behavior within the study area. We found that the collars are effective at preventing them from entering the virtual fence management area, and that the collars did not have a negative impact on cattle behavior or create a negative association with the management area. The cows were quick to learn their boundaries and avoid the virtual fence area. These results provide good evidence for using virtual fencing as a form of precision management for cattle.

Technical Abstract: A observational study was conducted at Northern Great Basin Experimental Range (NGBER; Riley, OR) to evaluate the efficacy of virtual fence (VF) as well as the behavior of naïve cows when fitted with VF collars. Eleven mature cows were used in this study. Behavioral observations, chute score, and exit velocity, collar fit score, latency to approach feed attractant, as well as auditory and electric stimulus count, were evaluated over five consecutive runs of ten minutes each. Data were analyzed using MIXED procedure of SAS (SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC; version 9.4). Auditory and electric stimuli were applied when cows entered the management zones which were set based on global positioning systems (GPS) coordinates. Auditory and electric stimuli were only applied during runs 2, 3, and 4. The response of both stimuli followed the same pattern and was positively correlated (r = 0.88; P < 0.001). Cows received the greatest (P = 0.01) number of stimuli during run 2, which decreased in runs 3 and 4, implying that cows quickly learn to avoid the VF area. Regarding time spent in the VF area, cows spent the greatest (P < 0.01) time at the VF area during run 1 followed by run 5, with runs 2, 3, and 4 with the least amount of time spent at the VF area. Among the behaviors observed, cows engaged in eating behavior at the greatest (P < 0.001) percentage of time during run 1 when compared to runs 2, 3, and 4 with no differences observed when compared to run 5, implying that eating behavior was not negatively affected by VF use. In summary, the use of VF collars was effective at preventing cows from entering the VF area and therefore consuming the feed attractant. Additionally, the use of VF collars did not negatively impact the cow behavior, as observed by the resumption of behaviors upon removal of collars. Further, cows did not develop a negative association with the VF area, in fact, cows quickly learn to avoid the VF area upon stimuli.