Livestock Bonding for Improving Paddock Management: A Maui Case Study

TitleLivestock Bonding for Improving Paddock Management: A Maui Case Study
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsStevenson MH, Friel G, Anderson D.M.
Date PublishedSeptember 2017

Applying an understanding of animal behavior principles can meet several ranch-management objectives. Research has demonstrated that differences in foraging behavior among cattle, sheep, and goats can help control undesirable vegetation at relatively low cost. However, increasing the number of animal species on a ranch will usually increase management labor or infrastructure costs. Haleakala Ranch on Maui conducted livestock bonding trials to evaluate this behavior-based method as a low-cost way to improve grazing management and forage use. Bonding produced interspecific livestock groups of cattle, sheep, and goats that consistently remained together when moved. This cohesive interspecific livestock grouping, termed a flerd (Figure 1), was formed by socializing the small ruminants with cattle through close association. USDA Agricultural Research Service studies conducted at the Jornada Experimental Range in south-central New Mexico on bonding for reducing coyote predation of free-ranging sheep and goats formed the basis of the Haleakala Ranch trials. Livestock bonding shows potential in Hawai‘i for improved control of livestock distribution across a paddock, increasing paddock use efficiency, and providing another layer of protection from feral dog or pig predation on sheep and goats.