The University of Arizona

Spatial and temporal patterns of cattle feces deposition on rangeland.

K.W. Tate, E.R. Atwill, N.K. McDougald, M.R. George

Abstract


The objective of this study was to identify and model environmental and management factors associated with cattle feces deposition patterns across annual rangeland watersheds in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Daily cattle fecal load accumulation rates were calculated from seasonal fecal loads measured biannually on 40 m2 permanent transects distributed across a 150.5 ha pasture in Madera County, Calif. during the 4 year period from 1995 through 1998. Associations between daily fecal load per season, livestock management, and environmental factors measured for each transect were determined using a linear mixed effects model. Cattle feces distribution patterns were significantly associated with location of livestock attractants, slope percentage, slope aspect, hydrologic position, and season. Transects located in livestock concentration areas experienced a significantly higher daily fecal load compared to transects outside of these concentration areas (P < 0.001). Percent slope was negatively associated with daily fecal load, but this association had a significant interaction with slope aspect (P = 0.02). Daily fecal load was significantly lower during the wet season compared to the dry season (P = 0.002). Daily fecal loading rates across hydrologic positions were dependent upon season. Our results illustrate the opportunities to reduce the risk of water quality contamination by strategic placement of cattle attractants, and provide a means to predict cattle feces deposition based upon inherent watershed characteristics and management factors.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v56i5_tate


Keywords


dry season;wet season;cattle manure;forage quality;watershed hydrology;slope;linear models;defecation;aspect;water supply;animal preferences;water troughs;California;spatial distribution;range management;seasonal variation;grazing;beef cattle

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