Herd Size-Dependent Effects of Restricted Foraging Time Allowance on Cattle Behavior, Nutrition, and Performance

Wilfred O. Odadi, Daniel Ian Rubenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

We tested the influence of herd size on the effects of restricted foraging time on cattle (Bos indicus) foraging behavior, nutrition, and performance in a Kenyan savanna rangeland. Using a randomized block design, we compared weight gain, forage intake, diet selection, dietary crude protein (CP) and digestible organic matter (DOM), bite and step rates, distance travelled, and activity time budgets between steers allowed unlimited foraging time (DNG) in predator-free areas with those herded diurnally in predator-accessible areas in large (200 steers; LDG), medium (150 steers; MDG), or small (100 steers; SDG) herds and corralled at night. Daily weight gain was greater (P < 0.01) in DNG (0.61 kg) or SDG (0.56 kg) than in LDG (0.19 kg) or MDG (0.29 kg) but did not differ (P = 0.591 ) between DNG and SDG. Likewise, daily organic matter intake was greater (P < 0.05) in DNG (6.2 kg) or SDG (5.4 kg) than in LDG (3.7 kg) or MDG (3.7 kg) but did not differ (P = 0.288) between DNG and SDG. Grazing time was lower (P < 0.01) in DNG (42.2%) than in LDG (71.3%), MDG (72.2%), or SDG (69.5%), while the reverse was the case for ruminating and/or resting time (47.1%, 12.1%, 11.9%, and 10.3% in DNG, LDG, MDG, and SDG, respectively). Bite rate was lower in DNG (13.1 bites · min-1) than LDG (21.0 bites · min-1; P = 0.068), MDG (27.7 bites · min-1; P = 0.13) or SDG (26.2 bites · min-1; P = 0.007). However, diet selection, CP, DOM, step rate, and distance travelled did not differ among treatments. Our findings demonstrate subdued negative effects of restricted foraging time when cattle are herded diurnally in small-sized herds. Application of this strategy could reduce the need for eliminating wild carnivores to facilitate unrestricted foraging time for cattle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-348
Number of pages8
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
Volume68
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Keywords

  • corralling
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • livestock predation
  • predatory wild carnivores
  • savanna rangelands
  • unrestricted foraging time allowance

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