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Social and environmental factors influence cattle distribution on rangeland

By L. D. Howery, F. D. Provenza, R. E. Banner, C. B. Scott

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Abstract

The distribution patterns of cattle dams (and foster dams) and their offspring while grazing a 1030-ha (about 3 km by 5 km) allotment was studied during the summers of 1990-1993 in Idaho, USA. The primary objective in this 4-year field study was to determine whether yearling and adult offspring (and foster offspring) would return to the initial locations and associated habitat types that they were exposed to by their dams (or foster dams) early in life. The dams' offspring for four consecutive summers (1990-1993) and the foster-dams' offspring were observed for 3 consecutive summers (1991-1993). Offspring were reared mostly in two different locations on the allotment by their dams or foster dams. Centroid analyses indicated that offspring in all 4 groups remained near the general location where they were reared as calves when they returned to the allotment as older animals (mean 0.5 to 1.2 km from dams' or foster dams' central location). Peers apparently attenuated the dams' (and foster dams') influence on location and habitat use when offspring were yearlings. The effect of peers was manifested by an increase in distance from dams' or foster dams' central location, and by a higher association index among yearlings, both of which reflected the collective experiences of offspring in the peer groups. Drought weakened the dams' and foster dams' influence on location and habitat use as water became scarce near their central location, but drought amplified the dams' and foster dams' influence when water was not limited. By the final year of the study, offspring in 3 of the 4 groups monitored were within 0.7 km from the dams' or foster dams' central location.

Date 1998
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 55
Issue 3/4
Pages 231-244
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Rangeland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5230, USA.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Calves
  3. Cattle
  4. Developed countries
  5. Environment
  6. Geographical distribution
  7. Grasslands and rangelands
  8. Grazing
  9. Idaho
  10. Learning
  11. Mammals
  12. Meteorology
  13. North America
  14. OECD countries
  15. pastures
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. responses
  18. United States of America
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  1. peer-reviewed