How does grazing pressure affect feed intake and behavior of livestock in a meadow steppe in northern China and their coupling relationship

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Yu, T., Yan, R., Zhang, C., Chen, S., Zhang, Z., Guo, L., Hu, T., Jiang, C., Wang, M., Bai, K., Zhou, W. and Wu, L. 2023. How does grazing pressure affect feed intake and behavior of livestock in a meadow steppe in northern China and their coupling relationship. Science of the Total Environment. 908 (15 Jan), p. 168472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.168472

AuthorsYu, T., Yan, R., Zhang, C., Chen, S., Zhang, Z., Guo, L., Hu, T., Jiang, C., Wang, M., Bai, K., Zhou, W. and Wu, L.
Abstract

Livestock feeding behavior and intake play a crucial role in influencing grassland health and productivity. A comprehensive investigation into livestock feeding behavior and intake can effectively elucidate the interactions and impacts of livestock and grasslands, providing scientific evidence and technical support for the formulation and implementation of sustainable grassland development strategies. Based on a long-term controlled grazing experiment platform conducted over 13 years, the feeding behavior and forage intake of cattle under different grazing intensities were observed and analyzed. Additionally, we used GPS sensors to study cattle grazing behavior trends. Using Mantel's test, we analyzed the relationship between cattle movement distance, forage intake, and environmental factors. The results demonstrated that cattle forage intake decreased with increasing grazing intensity. Forage intake peaked at the end of July and beginning of August, with the highest efficiency observed in August. Moreover, under light grazing intensity, cattle exhibited greater fluctuations in forage intake than those under moderate and heavy grazing intensity. Cattle movement levels increased with higher grazing intensity, and during the period of lush grass growth, cattle displayed significantly higher movement levels than during grass senescence. The accuracy of the behavior determination model based on cattle velocity ranged from 60 to 80 %. Using this model, we found that under heavy grazing conditions, cattle spent significantly more time roaming than under light and moderate grazing. Conversely, under light grazing conditions, cattle spent significantly more time feeding. A negative correlation was identified between cattle forage intake and movement distance. Cattle's forage intake was significantly positively correlated with grass height and grass biomass and significantly negatively correlated with stocking rate and movement distance. Thorough research on livestock feeding behavior and intake offers scientific evidence and technical support for formulating and implementing sustainable grassland development strategies.

KeywordsGrazing ; Cattle; Meadow steppe; Forage intake; Foraging behavior; Behaviour
Year of Publication2023
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Journal citation908 (15 Jan), p. 168472
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.168472
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online10 Nov 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Nov 2023
ISSN0048-9697
PublisherElsevier

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