Analysis of Travel Patterns of Bison and Cattle on Native Nebraska Sandhills Rangeland

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,807.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Federal Funds: $9,807.00
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Charles Butterfield
Chadron State College


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, rangeland/pasture management

    Proposal abstract:

    The increase in the popularity of bison (Bison bison L.) as an alternative livestock animal for lean meat production has raised a number of questions regarding the best methods of production and management of bison.  As there is little scientific information regarding bison production on native rangelands, bison producers have been forced to adapt research on cattle (Bos taurus L.) grazing practices for use in bison grazing. One important difference between bison and cattle that 1:1 adaptation of management practices does not account for, and one which has not been scientifically studied to any great extent, is differing patterns of utilization and occupancy of the areas of a pasture unit, including distance traveled, patterns of travel, and area occupancy times. The purpose of this study is to quantify the daily travel distance of bison and cattle in a free-range setting using global Position System (GPS) collars, in order to determine if bison travel further on a typical day than cattle.  Additionally, this study will quantify differing landscape-usage patterns between bison and cattle, as well as the occupation time of both species in a  minimum management setting.  These data will also provide the basis for a quantification of forage destruction by trampling and fecal deposition for both species.  In total, these data will help determine the appropriateness of adapting research of cattle grazing practices for use in bison production. Data generated by this study will be useful to producers of both species in formulating grazing management plans, anticipating the effect of herd behavior, and infomrmation necessary to mitigate negative effect on rangeland forage resources.  It is the hope of the researchers that the findings of this study will be of interest to porducers of both species of meat animal in formulating grazing management plans in order to preserve rangeland forage resources.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.