Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Livestock in new environments are typically at a disadvantage and initially can not make efficient use of resources. Our objective was to compare forage selection and grazing activities of 3 naive and 3 experienced steers as they grazed on an array of 8 different forages. Each animal was monitored as it made initial selections from 100 feeding stations for each of 4 days. Variables for each of the forages included: number of visits to each, number of bites harvested, time expended at feeding stations, and distance traveled between stations. Experienced steers selected roughly 90% of their forage from the 2 most preferred species. Naive animals were initially exploratory, but by the end of the first grazing session selected roughly 75% of their forage from preferred species. These differences remained constant throughout the trial. Naive steers expended more time at each feeding station (8 vs 5.5 seconds) but were more likely to harvest a single bite(37 vs 20%. Naive steers traveled 40% further than their experienced counterparts, but also sought out the closest plant more often when moving between feeding stations (51 vs 32%). While naive and experienced cattle exhibit significant disparities in their selection of forages and grazing activities, our trials did not establish the time required for their behaviors to approach parity.