Offstream water and trace mineral salt as management strategies for improved cattle distribution
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2002, 00:00 by M. L. Porath, P. A. Momont, T. DelCurto, N. R. Rimbey, John A. Tanaka, M. McInnis
The objective of this study was to test the combined effect of offstream water and trace mineral salt on cattle distribution in a riparian meadow and its adjacent uplands. From July 15 to August 26, 1996 and 1997, three treatments were each randomly assigned to one pasture in each of three blocks. Sixty cow/calf pairs were then randomly allotted to the grazed pastures. The treatments included 1) stream access and access to offstream water and trace-mineral salt (offstream), 2) stream access and no access to offstream water or trace-mineral salt (no-offstream), and 3) ungrazed control. The response of cattle was measured through visual observations of cattle distribution, grazing activity and travel distance, cow/calf performance, and fecal deposit distribution. Distribution patterns of the cattle, measured as the distance of cattle from the stream, was characterized by a time of day × treatment × time in grazing period × year interaction (P < 0.05). No-offstream cattle began the day further from the stream than offstream cattle but consistently moved closer to the stream after the morning grazing period (0600 to 0900). Differences in distribution patterns between the two treatments were more pronounced early in the grazing period than late in the grazing period. Grazing activity, fecal deposit distribution, and travel distance of cattle were not affected by the presence of offstream water and trace-mineral salt. Cows and calves with offstream water and trace-mineral salt gained 11.5 kg and 0.14 kg/d more, respectively, than no-offstream cows and calves averaged across years (P < 0.05). Overall, cattle distribution patterns and cow/ calf performance were influenced by the presence of offstream water and trace-mineral salt. Changes in distribution were most pronounced early in the grazing season.