Nebraska Extension specialist Mitch Stephenson holds a GPS tracking collar at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. The collars monitor how behavior influences grazing habits.
OUT ON RANGE
A cow wearing a GPS collar grazes mixed-grass prairie on the Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab. Every 10 minutes, the collar sends a signal to a satellite, indicating where she is in the pasture.
When it comes to herd cohesion, every herd has a different dynamic. "Smaller herds are going to stay closer together. As the herd and pasture size gets larger, with more topography, we'll start to see some breaking up into different groups," Stephenson says.
Using data points collected from the GPS collars, Stephenson notes, "We end up with a map like this, where we can say this is where this cow was most likely grazing on this pasture."
Yearling heifers graze in a pasture with perennial cool-season grasses and cheatgrass. Cheatgrass, an annual invasive grass, is palatable early on in the growing season. The goal, when grazing cheatgrass, is to graze it before it goes to seed.