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Quantifying and predicting patch selection by cattle under different management strategies

Project start date: 01 March 2005
Project end date: 31 December 2006
Publication date: 01 December 2006
Livestock species: Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: Central Queensland
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Summary

Research was conducted in experimental paddocks (~100 ha) at Wambiana Station and in a 1500 ha paddock at Trafalgar Station, both near Charters Towers. Factors significantly influencing animal distribution were land-type, based on soil and dominant vegetation, and proximity to water. Daily patterns of distance travelled by grazing animals were similar in experimental and commercial sized paddocks. Specific forage use or an absolute measure of grazing activity was not determined in this project. However, periods likely to be associated with grazing, resting/ruminating or moving were indirectly identified and spatially aligned with broad soil groups to calculate preference indices. Spatial variation in animal position within a paddock may be more critical than overall stocking density in determining over- or under-utilization of heterogeneous pastures. Although some commonalities in animal distribution between study sites were apparent, it was not possible to extrapolate from experimental to commercial scales. The GPS technology was still in the developmental phase and the extreme conditions encountered in this trial were a challenge for the hardware. Results were compromised by both the functionality of equipment and poor pasture growth at Wambiana.

More information

Project manager: Mick Quirk
Primary researcher: CSIRO