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Wintertime use of natural versus artificial shelter by cattle in nature reserves in temperate areas

By E. van Laer, B. Ampe, C. Moons, B. Sonck, F. A. M. Tuyttens

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The current study contributes scientific observation to the ongoing debate about whether and when artificial shelter (man-made), in addition to natural shelter (vegetation), should be provided to cattle grazing in nature reserves during temperate winters. In several year-round grazing projects in Belgium, we have investigated the effect of winter climatic conditions on cattle's use of natural versus artificial shelter. In eight nature reserves with varying amount and spatial distribution of natural shelter and an artificial shelter, GPS were used collars to monitor terrain use during one, two or three winters (per 30 min, 24 h per day). Cattle location data were related to instantaneous open-field measurements of the Comprehensive Climatic Index (CCI). In addition, the effects of the time of day (day-time versus night-time) and the amount of natural shelter and its spatial distribution on these relationships were investigated. In most nature reserves, cattle increasingly avoided open area and sought shelter at CCI values

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 163
Pages 39-49
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.12.004
Language English
Author Address Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO), Animal Sciences Unit, Scheldeweg 68, 9090 Melle,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Belgium
  4. Biological resources
  5. Bovidae
  6. Cattle
  7. Climate
  8. Cold
  9. Developed countries
  10. Effect
  11. Europe
  12. Grazing
  13. Mammals
  14. nature reserves
  15. OECD countries
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Protection
  18. Ruminants
  19. shelters
  20. space
  21. ungulates
  22. vertebrates
  23. weather
  24. winter
  1. peer-reviewed