Characterizing foraging patterns among cattle and bonded and non- bonded small ruminants using spatial point process techniques

TitleCharacterizing foraging patterns among cattle and bonded and non- bonded small ruminants using spatial point process techniques
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAnderson D.M., Murray LM, Sun P., Fredrickson E.L., Estell RE, Nakamatsu V.B.
Conference Name22nd Annual Conference Proceedings on Applied Statistics in Agriculture
Date Published2010
PublisherKansas State University
Conference LocationManhattan, Kansas
ARIS Log Number257428, 270472
Keywordsanimal disribution, animal locations, cattle, flerds, goats, mixed-species stocking, sheep

Two mixed-species livestock groups were monitored while foraging on 410 ha of brush-infested Southern New Mexico rangeland during July and August 1988. The groups consisted of crossbred Bos taurus and Bos indicus beef cattle with white-faced sheep (Ovis aries) and mohair goats (Capra hircus).  The bonded group consisted of small ruminants that had their behaviours modified through socialization with cattle to form a flerd in which small ruminants consistently remained near cattle.  Small ruminants in the non-bonded group had not been socialized with cattle.  A subset of animal location data measured during the morning over five days for both the bonded and non-bonded groups was analyzed for spatial patterns.  Only data for five morning periods (0700-0800 h) are reported because morning and afternoon spatial patterns were similar.  Distance measures and Monte Carlo simulations for spatial point processes were used to analyze the data.  Results suggested bonded and non-bonded groups were similar in spatial patterns of intra-specific distances for both cattle and small ruminants.  However, bonding changed the repulsive relationship observed between cattle and non-bonded small ruminants stocked together to one of inter-specific attraction.  Bonded small ruminants remained close to and formed inter-specific clusters with cattle.  In addition, the mean number of bonded small ruminants near an arbitrary cow was consistently high.  Finally, the spatial pattern of cattle across the paddock did not differ between bonded and non-bonded groups, while bonded small ruminants tended to disperse slightly more uniformly across the paddock than did non-bonded small ruminants. These findings suggest paddock utilization may be positively influenced using flerds compared to flocks and herds.