Coupling tech herding and emissions measurement technologies to develop sustainable grazing strategies on the shortgrass steppe

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2024: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Colorado State University
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Kim Stackhouse-Lawson
Colorado State University
Edward Raynor
Colorado State University
Anna Shadbolt
Colorado State University AgNext


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial)
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Animal Production: grazing management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    Enteric CH4 emissions are largely unknown from cattle
    grazing extensive rangelands with little to no understanding of
    the role vegetation communities play in driving these emissions.
    Determining forage-animal-emissions relationships would be
    beneficial for ranchers to understand if grazing plans oriented
    toward low-emission vegetation communities could mitigate
    CH4 emissions. Our question is “Can virtual fencing
    act as a tool for managing individual animal CH4
    emissions?” Steers differing in natal origin will be provided by
    1) local short-grass prairie stocker operations within the Crow
    Valley Livestock Cooperative, Inc., 2) the USDA ARS Meat Animal
    Research Center (mixed-grass prairie in south-central Nebraska),
    and 3) the Rouse Beef Improvement Center (high-elevation
    mixed-grass prairie area in southeastern Wyoming). Steers will
    graze low- and high-productivity rangeland in Colorado (2024).
    Technology employed in this project includes Vence (Merck & Co.,
    Inc., Rahway, New Jersey) virtual fencing to mediate animal
    distribution and GreenFeed (C-Lock, Inc. Rapid City, South
    Dakota) to measure individual animal emissions. Using a
    producer-created grazing plan, herd distribution mediated by
    virtual fencing will aim to match animal demand with forage
    availability with concomitant enteric emissions measured for
    individual steers. How grazing management decisions affect
    emissions will be assessed, and findings will be disseminated to
    animal agriculture stakeholders. We will engage with key industry
    stakeholders including producers, feedlot operators, and meat
    processors through engagement events and extension materials.
    Outcomes will be 1) CH4 emissions (grams/head/day) for
    steers grazing low- and high-productivity rangeland and 2) a
    determination of the utility of virtual fencing to aid emissions

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objectives:

    • Evaluate forage-animal-emissions relationships of stocker
      steers from different ranch origins grazing a common summer
      rangeland in the shortgrass steppe of Colorado using advanced
    • Grow the resiliency of the beef cattle supply chain by
      improving collaboration between research institutions, government
      organizations, and producers.

    Educational Objectives:

    • Producers report changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills,
      and/or awareness of GHG emissions, technologies, and
      climate-smart practices as a result of their participation in the
      educational programming provided by this project.
    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.