Mother-Offspring Interactions in Raramuri Criollo Cattle on New Mexico and Chihuahua (Mexico) Rangelands

TitleMother-Offspring Interactions in Raramuri Criollo Cattle on New Mexico and Chihuahua (Mexico) Rangelands
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsNyamuryekung'e S., Cibils AF, Estell RE, Gonzalez AL, Roacho-Estrada J.O., Rodriguez-Almedia F.A, Spiegal S.
Conference NameSociety for Range Management Meeting
VolumeJanuary 28-February 2, 2018
Date Published01/28/2018
PublisherSociety for Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Conference LocationSparks, Nevada
ARIS Log Number347087

Rangeland beef cows spend approximately six months of a typical year raising their calf. This endeavor is known to significantly alter a dam’s grazing behavior and spatial distribution patterns. The objective of this study was to characterize cow-calf contact events in two herds of Raramuri Criollo (RC) cattle that grazed rangeland pastures in southern New Mexico (NM, 4355 ha) and west-central Chihuahua, Mexico (623 ha). At each site, five to nine randomly selected mature nursing cows were fitted with Lotek 3300LR GPS collars and Sirtrak proximity loggers. GPS collars recorded animal position at 5-min intervals, whereas proximity loggers recorded initiation time and duration of mother-offspring contact events (<3m distance). All calves were <2 weeks old at the onset of the study. Collared animals grazed with a herd of 30 and 35 cows at the NM site and with 68 and 87 cows at the Chihuahua site in 2015 and 2016, respectively. We computed number of contact events and duration of each event for 24h time periods, and for daytime and nighttime hours. ANOVA was used to determine if contact events and duration of each event changed as a function of calf age or time of day (day vs. nighttime). We also determined whether daily area explored by a cow and its calf differed. Day vs. nighttime mother-offspring contact events and contact time were not different (P=0.05). Dams explored larger areas of the pasture than did their calves on any given day (40.3 vs. 29.2 ha; P= 0.0249). Cow-calf interactions tended to decrease and mother-offspring difference in daily area explored tended to increase as calves became older. Our results suggest that RC calves follow their dams during daily grazing bouts and are likely to constrain their dams’ feeding site selection the most during the first weeks after calving.