Selecting Cattle to Prevent Grazing Distribution Problems

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $115,598.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $46,158.00
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Derek Bailey
Montana State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: free-range, pasture renovation, preventive practices, range improvement
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, riverbank protection
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, public participation, sustainability measures


    The potential of using breed and individual animal selection to improve grazing distribution was demonstrated in foothill rangeland. Cattle breeds developed in mountainous terrain used rugged rangeland more uniformly than breeds developed in more gentle terrain. Some cows used steeper slopes and areas further from water (hill climbers), while others used gentler terrain near water (bottom dwellers) when compared together and in separate pastures. Hill climbers left more residual vegetation in riparian areas and other sensitive rangeland than bottom dwellers. Animal performance was not adversely related to terrain use, so selection for grazing distribution should not reduce overall herd production.

    Project objectives:

    1. Using simple and easily obtainable observations, identify a behavior(s) that can be used to predict the general grazing distribution patterns of individual cattle.

      Determine if removing cattle with undesirable grazing distribution patterns will result in a more uniform use of forage in foothills rangeland.

      Determine the relationships among individual grazing distribution patterns and livestock production traits such as calf weaning weight, pregnancy rate and mature cow weight.

      Disseminate the results of the project to livestock producers, other extension personnel, rangeland managers and the scientific community.

    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.