Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Range Science

Committee Chair(s)

John C. Malechek


John C. Malechek


Don D. Dwyer


John E. Butcher


The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of climatic variations upon the daily activities of grazing cattle. The activities of individual cows on a partially seeded salt desert shrub range were observed and recorded during three grazing periods. Two of the periods were during consecutive winters and the other during the spring. Climatic variations during the second winter period were quantified and compared to changes in the daily activity patterns of the cattle.

Distinctly different daily routines of cattle activities were evident for the winter and spring seasons. In the spring, the cattle grazed, traveled, and drank more each day than they did during the winter months. The increase in these activities was attributed to the more temperate climatic conditions and the higher energy demands of lactation.

Air temperature, changes in barometric pressure, windspeed, precipitation, snow depth, and radiation all influenced cattle activities in the winter. Decreasing air temperature and rapid fluctuations in barometric pressure both correlated significantly with increased grazing time. Increasing windspeed and greater snow depth caused the cattle to travel less distance daily. The cattle ceased grazing during snowstorms. They oriented themselves at right angles to the sun while standing and lying. The modifications which occurred in daily activity patterns were shown to be apparently directed toward the conservation of energy during periods of climatic stress.