The University of Arizona

Cattle use of foothills rangeland near dehydrated molasses supplement.

D.W. Bailey, G.R. Welling, E.T. Miller


Strategic supplement placement has been shown to be an effective tool to lure cattle to underutilized rangeland. The goal of this study was to determine where cattle grazed when supplement was placed in foothills rangeland. The study was conducted in 4 pastures in northern Montana that were dominated by cool-season grasses. For 2-week periods beginning in October 1998 and ending in January 1999, dehydrated molasses blocks (30% CP) were placed in locations within 3 pastures that were steeper and further from water. Forage utilization was measured at the time of supplement placement and again at removal. Increases in forage utilization during each period (14%) were similar (P > 0.1) at distances of 30 to 600 m from supplement, and increases were additive across periods. Forage utilization was evaluated in a fourth pasture during August and September 1999 at distances of 50 to 3,000 m from the supplement. Forage use declined (P < 0.01) at further distances from supplement, and forage use at distances less than 600 to 800 m from supplement was greater than the average of all measurements collected throughout the pasture. During the autumn and early winter at the 2 pastures located near Havre, Mont., 53% of the cows were observed within 600 m of supplement and 47% were observed at greater distances from supplement. Eighty-one of the 159 cows grazing the 2 pastures near Havre (245 and 330 ha) were fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars. The collared cows spent 37% of their time within 600 m of supplement. Uniformity of cattle grazing can be enhanced by the placement of dehydrated molasses supplement in rugged topography, and the area influenced can include distances up to 600 m from supplement.



molasses;global positioning systems;sloping land;spatial variation;water availability;pastures;feed supplements;spatial distribution;cattle;Montana;rangelands;grazing;grasses

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