Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources


John C. Malecheck


A quantitative description of the foraging process is necessary for effective planning and execution of intensive grazing schemes. Foraging behavior is defined as having two components: feeding and moving. At intervals the foraging animal walks a number of steps searching for food and then pauses to feed at a new position here termed a feeding station. Five behavioral variables were analyzed under this framework: 1) time spent at a feed ing station; 2) number of bites at a feeding station; 3) steps taken between stations; 4) rate of steps; and 5) foraging time. The experimental design consisted of grazing small adjacent, approximately 7-ha paddocks for periods lasting 8 days. Animals significantly (P<0.01) increased the probability of taking 1 to 2 bites at a station as the season progressed. Regression analysis relating foraging time (in days) on a paddock revealed that the regression coefficients were statistically significant (P<0.05) suggesting that heifers were appreciably increasing foraging time as the grazing periods progressed. Analysis of moving behavior indicated that animals most often took 1 step between feeding stations and moved at approximately the same rate regardless of sward conditions. The significance of the behavioral measurements is discussed.