Feeding habits of Brangus and Raramuri Criollo cows grazing Chihuahuan Desert rangeland

TitleFeeding habits of Brangus and Raramuri Criollo cows grazing Chihuahuan Desert rangeland
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsDuni D, Cibils AF, Estell RE, Cox A, McIntosh MM, Spiegal S.
Conference NameSociety for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Date Published02/15/2021
ARIS Log Number383759

Heritage cattle breeds may help improve sustainability of ranching in the arid Southwest. Foraging behavior of Raramuri Criollo (RC, heritage breed) and Brangus (BR) cows was observed to determine whether breeds differ in the amount of browse included in their diets. Cattle were monitored by a single observer who scan sampled groups of 3 to 16 animals at 30 second intervals for 30 minutes during morning and afternoon foraging bouts to determine frequency of grazing vs. browsing. To the best of the observer’s ability cattle were undisturbed while monitoring. Observations were conducted on 29 or 23 days in spring and summer, respectively. A total of 5,824 (3,521 RC, 2,303 BR) and 7,120 (3,429 RC, 3,691 BR) in spring and summer, respectively, were summarized and analyzed. Analysis of Variance using PROC GLM in SAS 9.4 to determine the effect of breed and season on frequency of browsing and grazing of cattle in this study. LS means were compared using the Tukey-Kramer test. We found a significant breed-by-season interaction for browsing (P< 0.01) and grazing (P< 0.01) frequency, therefore breed differences in feeding habits depended on the season considered. In spring, RC cows were observed browsing more often (64.4 %; P = 0.08) and grazing less often (35.6%; P = 0.08) than BR cows (browsing: 29.7%; grazing: 70.3%). In summer, no differences between breeds were observed (P > 0.10). RC were observed browsing more often (P=0.02) and grazing less often (P= 0.02) in spring than in summer whereas BR showed no statistically detectable seasonal differences in grazing and browsing frequency (P > 0.1). Our results, while preliminary, suggest that relative to BR, heritage cows grazing Chihuahuan Desert rangeland include more browse in their diets during spring and exhibit higher seasonal plasticity of feeding habits.