The University of Arizona

Cattle grazing behavior on a foothill elk winter range in southeastern Wyoming.

R.H. Hart, K.W. Hepworth, M.A. Smith, J.W. Waggoner


Cattle at a light stocking rate of 0.17 to 0.18 AUM/ha over a 35-day grazing season in summer preferred to graze on lowland range sites, while elk in winter preferred upland range sites. We changed stocking rates on the same pastures to a moderate rate of 0.28 AUM/ha and a very light rate of 0.034 AUM/ha to determine the effects of stocking rate on cattle preference for range sites and possible habitat overlap between cattle and elk. At all stocking rates, cattle spent significantly more time grazing on loamy range sites and less time on other sites than would be expected on the basis of area occupied by the sites. When grazing pressure was increased from light to moderate, cattle grazing time on loamy sites increased. When grazing pressure was decreased from light to very light, cattle grazed only loamy and shallow sites to the complete exclusion of other sites. Cattle grazed farther from water as stocking rate increased and as the grazing season progressed. They also grazed on steeper slopes as stocking rate increased, and as the season progressed under the highest stocking rate. Even at the highest stocking rate studied, there was little habitat overlap between cattle and elk.


animal competition;sloping land;foraging;highlands;lowlands;habitats;site factors;soil types;stocking rate;pastures;winter;Wyoming;grazing intensity;Cervus elaphus canadensis;grazing behavior;cattle

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