Narrator: For decades, there’s been concern about
the impacts of grazing livestock on public and private land. Today,
farm advisors and range specialists at the University of California
Cooperative Extension natural resources are working to reduce grazing
impacts on wildlife and aquatic habitats.
Mel George, Range Specialist/Dept. Plant Sciences, UC Davis: Using
livestock distribution methods, we can improve the distribution of
animals on the landscape and reduce overuse in any one area within a
field or pasture or an allotment and that’s been a goal of range
managers from the very beginning and it will always be a goal.
Narrator:George says livestock distribution
methods, such as water trough placement, supplemental feed and salt are
still used to control grazing distribution, but now they have GPS and
geographic information systems to help.
George: Those two technologies allow us in a
research mode to study how animals distribute themselves far better
than we’ve ever been able to do it in the past. And that allows us to
fine tune our practices so that we do a better job of controlling
Narrator: At the McDougald Ranch in Madera County, California, ranchers are monitoring their cattle with GPS collars.
Kelly Smith: This is a GPS collar. We can put them
on livestock or wildlife. How it works basically is that you have a
battery down at the bottom and inside this box you have a GPS unit and
there’s also inside this box activity sensors that measure head
activity going this way [back and forth motion with hand] and this way
[front and back motion with hand]. There’s also a temperature sensor in
this that can measure temperature basically around the area of the cow.
The GPS unit inside this collar also runs a cord that comes all the way
up to the antennae, which is stationed on the very top of the collar.
And you stick them on a cow and they stay there for a month to a month
and a half monitoring their location.
Neil McDougald: We all have a sense of cattle
behavior, but with this study and the work that the university does,
we’re able to quantify that, we’re able to understand it, we’re able to
put it into models to predict change. These are all things we can look
at and think about and incorparte in what we do. They’re not
necessarily expensive things, those are management things that we can
do and so with just simply knowing and understanding, I think we can
really benefit all of us.
Narrator: For Science Today, I’m Larissa Branin.
UC farm advisors and range specialists are working to reduce
livestock grazing impacts on wildlife and aquatic habitats using GPS
technology in a project known as 'Cows in Space'.
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