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Cattle Movement Monitoring for the Assessment of Impacts on Pasture Based Systems

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2011 Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10, 2011  1100006.(doi:10.13031/2013.41479)
Authors:   Tong Liu, Luis F Rodríguez, Angela R Green, Daniel W Shike, Jacob R Segers
Keywords:   greenhouse gas, global positioning system, cattle movement, spatial analysis

With rising concerns in climate change, cattle production systems have been linked to the emissions of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) as well as the potential sequestration of carbon in soils. There exists an opportunity to impact carbon sequestration in soils through a better understanding of cattle movement, feeding behaviors and pasture utilization. A successful GPS tracking system has been developed to monitor the movement of a mixed group of beef cows and heifers on fescue pasture in rotational grazing paddocks at the University of Illinois Beef Cattle Farm. GPS data have been collected during the grazing season in 2010. To support this work, experiments have been designed to examine the static horizontal accuracy of GPS collars. ArcGIS package was used for data storage, management, visualization and analysis. Spatial analysis tools in ArcGIS were used to identify cattle movement patterns. A field utilization map has been created based on cattle movement data using density analysis. The initial results show that the pasture lands were unevenly utilized by cattle. This work has developed a successful protocol for monitoring cattle movement and provided some insights into the management and analysis of animal movement data. Given a thorough understanding of cattle field utilization and impact, models and decision tools will be developed in the future for identifying management strategies capable of considering both carbon balance and cattle performance.

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