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Cattle movement characterization and pattern identification for modeling cattle movement

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

Citation:  Paper number  131620743,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20131620743) @2014
Authors:   Tong Liu, Luis F Rodríguez, Angela R. Green, Daniel W. Shike, Guilherme Maia, Blake E. Lehman, Brett Ramirez, Jacob R Segers
Keywords:   Cattle, GPS collar, movement pattern, modeling.

Abstract. In modern agriculture, cattle and crop production systems are often integrated to enhance land utilization and productivity. Much debate remains on how to best manage these systems to maximize economic return and environmental benefits. For instance, uneven distribution of natural resources often leads to uneven grazing patterns. Cattle may heavily graze small portions of a pasture and spend significant amounts of time in preferred locations such as “bedding areas”. This concentrated activity can potentially increase soil compaction and reduce water infiltration, leading to detrimental effects on crop growth after the grazing season. We have developed a long-term approach to quantify grazing impacts on integrated cattle-crop systems and model cattle movement for decision support of grazing management. Our central hypothesis is that cattle affect soil characteristics and crop yields based upon uneven field utilization while grazing. This hypothesis is based on previous studies using GPS collars to monitor cattle grazing in intensively managed permanent pasture and in fields of corn stover. The goal of this research is to characterize cattle movement, quantify field utilization, and identify movement patterns. Spatial analysis tools were used to quantify field utilization by cattle and to identify environmental factors that affect cattle movement. Movement data was further explored to identify spatial and temporal movement patterns, including animal periodic behaviors and preferred locations. The effects of two plausible management practices on cattle movement, continuous grazing versus strip grazing, were also evaluated. This research has provided fundamental data and results that will be later used to model cattle movement.

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