Relationship of Supplement Intake Behavior to Performance and Grazing Behavior of Cattle Grazing Mixed-Grass Rangelands

Samuel A. Wyffels, Julia M. Dafoe, Cory T. Parsons, Darrin L. Boss, Timothy DelCurto


This study evaluated the relationships between supplement intake behavior, beef cattle performance, and grazing behavior on dormant northern mixed-grass rangelands. In each of two years, a commercial herd of bred cows grazed a rangeland pasture from November to January. All cattle were managed as one contemporary group. Calf birth date, birth weight, and adjusted 205-day weaning weight were collected for each cow following the grazing season each year as cow performance metrics. During the grazing season, all cattle were provided free-choice access to a self-fed supplement. Supplement intake behavior was measured for each individual. Grazing behavior was monitored for 30 randomly selected individuals. The relationship of individual average daily supplement intake (R = 0.65; ρ = 0.65), supplement consumption rate (R = 0.58; ρ = 0.54), the coefficient of variation of supplement intake (R = 0.51; ρ = 0.50), and the amount of time spent at the feeder (R = 0.47; ρ = 0.49) were positively correlated and ranked across years (P < 0.01), suggesting individual animal supplement intake behavior is repeatable for cattle grazing dormant season rangelands. Additionally, there were multiple significant associations between supplement intake behavior, cattle performance, and grazing behavior (P ≤ 0.05); however, the majority were weak associations that accounted for minimal variation in cattle performance and grazing behavior (R ≤ 0.27; r2 ≤ 0.07). Although supplement intake behavioral traits were repeatable across years, its use as a metric to predict animal performance and grazing behavior may be limited.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Samuel A. Wyffels, Julia M. Dafoe, Cory T. Parsons, Darrin L. Boss, Timothy DelCurto

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Journal of Agricultural Studies   ISSN 2166-0379


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