The University of Arizona

Cattle distribution patterns and vegetation use in mountain riparian areas.

C.T. Parsons, P.A. Momont, T. DelCurto, M. McInnis, M.L. Porath


To quantify the effects of season of use on beef cattle distribution relative to the riparian area, 52 cow/calf pairs were used to evaluate 1) early summer grazing (mid-June to mid-July), and 2) late summer grazing (mid-August to mid-September) during the summers of 1998 and 1999. Within a block, cow/calf pairs used during early summer were also used during late summer grazing periods. Pastures were stocked to achieve 50% utilization of herbaceous vegetation after a 28-day grazing trial. Livestock location and ambient air temperature were recorded hourly during two, 4-day periods in each season of use. Locations were transcribed to a geographical information system for the study area. Ocular vegetation utilization estimates, forage quality, and fecal deposits within 1-m of the stream were recorded post-grazing. During early summer, cattle were further from the stream (P < 0.01) than late summer, averaging 161 and 99-m, respectively. Cows were observed closer (P < 0.01) to the stream when ambient air temperatures were higher. Fecal deposits within 1-m of the stream were similar (P = 0.13) following early and late summer grazing. Forage quality varied (P < 0.01) between seasons, with early summer forages having lower dry matter, greater crude protein, lower fiber, and greater in situ dry matter disappearance compared with late summer forages. Utilization of riparian vegetation was lower and use of upland vegetation greater during early summer than late summer (P < 0.05). In summary, season of use affected cattle distribution relative to the riparian area, with late summer pastures having more concentrated use of riparian vegetation.



water requirement;late summer;lactation;early summer;streams;nutrient content;highlands;water intake;riparian areas;calves;ambient temperature;forage quality;stocking rate;beef cows;Oregon;summer;spatial distribution;range management;seasonal variation;botanical composition;grazing;beef cattle;feeding preferences

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