Location: Range Management ResearchTitle: Foraging behavior of Raramuri Criollo vs. commercial crossbred cows on rangelands of the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico
|ROACHO, ESTRADA - Universidad Autonoma De Chihuahua|
|RODRIGUEZ, ALMEIDA - Universidad Autonoma De Chihuahua|
|UTSUMI, SANTIAGO - New Mexico State University|
|FREDRICKSON, E. - Eastern Kentucky University|
|BEZANILLA ENRIQUEZ, G - Universidad Autonoma De Chihuahua|
|Estell, Richard - Rick|
|CIBILS, ANDRES - New Mexico State University|
Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/16/2023
Publication Date: 2/21/2023
Citation: Roacho, E.O., Rodriguez, A.F., Utsumi, S.A., Fredrickson, E.L., Bezanilla Enriquez, G.A., Estell, R.E., Gonzalez, A.L., Cibils, A.F. 2023. Foraging behavior of Raramuri Criollo vs. commercial crossbred cows on rangelands of the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Journal of Arid Environments. 212. Article 104943. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2023.104943.
Interpretive Summary: : Identifying cattle breeds that are suited for arid rangelands is critical for producers in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Raramuri Criollo cattle (RC) are a biotype that has undergone over 400 years of natural selection in northern Mexico. We compared behavior of heritage RC cows to commercial Angus and Hereford crossbreds at the Jornada Experimental Range in New Mexico and Rancho Experimental Teseachi in Chihuahua Mexico. Behavior and habitat selection were monitored using GPS tracking collars during spring and fall seasons. Raramuri Criollo cows traveled farther than cattle of British origin and grazed larger areas of desert rangeland in New Mexico. They also explored and grazed higher elevation rangelands with steeper slopes than commercial breeds at the Mexico site. The differences were greatest when forage was dormant or sparse. Habitat selection differed by breed, with British crosses selecting more open grassland areas dominated by palatable herbaceous plants. Differences in behavior of RC may be a result of natural selection through time, and these attributes may have utility for helping producers adapt to variable conditions of arid pastoral systems in climatically challenging regions.
Technical Abstract: Matching livestock genetics to climatically variable and nutritionally challenging environments is a key principle for sustainable livestock ranching in the Southwest US, Northern Mexico, and arid rangelands elsewhere. The hypothesis for divergent genetic adaptation of cows of Heritage Raramuri Criollo vs. British cattle breeds to varying climate, forage and terrain characteristics was tested at the Jornada Experimental Range (JER) in southwest New Mexico, USA and the Rancho Experimental Teseachi (RET) in central Chihuahua, Mexico during spring and fall seasons. The study design comprised four animal monitoring weeks per site and season and each animal monitoring period consisted of four replicates, each of which included a set of six mature cows per breed equipped with a GPS tracking collar. Grazing behavior and habitat selection variables were retrieved from the tracking collars and were analyzed by sets of mixed models considering the fixed effects of breed, site, seasons, and all interactions (significance; P < 0.05). Compared to the British breeds, the Raramuri Criollo cows traveled further and grazed across larger areas of flat desert rangeland at JER and explored and grazed higher elevation rangelands with steeper slopes at RET. Divergences were amplified when forages were dormant or scarce. Similarly, habitat selection differed by vegetation class and genotype group with British breeds selecting more open grassland areas dominated by palatable herbaceous plants at JER and RET sites. This genetic or breed-related phenotypic plasticity likely reflected the effects of natural vs. agricultural selection pressure through time, which could have implications on agricultural production and the long-term sustainability of pastoral systems in nutritionally and climatically challenging regions.