Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nutrient Supplement Alters Cattle Distribution

The Journal of Soil and Water Conservation recently included information about how nutrient supplements placed strategically in livestock confinements can be used to preserve water quality. See George et al. 2008; Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 63(1):11-17.)

“Environmental impacts of grazing livestock are frequently the result of poor livestock distribution,” George wrote. Cattle tend to spend time in environmentally critical areas, like riparian zones. Instead of using physical barriers, like fencing, to dictate livestock movements, George and his colleagues used nutritional protein supplements to lure the cattle away from sensitive areas of pasture.

Global positioning collars were used to document the movements of the cattle before and after the supplements were placed. The supplements successfully motivated the cattle to move more than 0.8 mi away from stock water, and the cattle tended to rest and graze near the supplement as well. Currently, protein supplements are not considered a best management practice, but George believes that they should be.

“The strategic placement of protein supplements can exert a strong influence on the distribution of range livestock,” George wrote.

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