High-tech equipment, along with old fashioned horse power, helped Montana researchers track when cows are at CRYSTALYX® barrels and what path they travel to reach the supplement. To obtain the information, researchers incorporated GPS technology into electronic monitoring collars.
Derek W. Bailey, a beef cattle researcher for the Montana State University Northern Agricultural Research Center at Havre, Mont., found that cows spent 40 percent of their time within 600 yards of the barrels.
“Our horseback observations showed that less than 20 percent of the cows were located within 200 yards of the primary water source,” Bailey says. Information gathered through the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology incorporated in the electronic monitoring collars showed cattle visited the supplement during all hours of the day.
RELATED: A public lands grazing solution
Other than during bitter cold weather, cows visited the supplement up to two times per-day and spent 20 to 60 minutes per visit at the barrel.
Bailey also found cattle took a zig-zag approach to the barrels during the two hour period before they reached the supplement. Using GPS tracking, researchers found the cows began their trek to the supplement an average of 320 yards away from the barrels, but traveled about 600 yards before they arrived. Cattle traveled further in the late morning than during the night or early morning. Numbers were similar for cattle behavior within two hours after supplement consumption — traveling about 500 yards to get a total of 260 yards away from the supplement.
“These patterns suggest that cattle likely grazed en route to and from the supplement,’ Bailey says. “We also noticed that cattle remained closer to the barrels at night, so the barrels may have served as loafing areas between grazing periods.”
Effectiveness of strategic low-moisture block and salt placement to lure cattle to graze under-utilized rangeland
A recent study involving GPS tracking of cattle movement showed that CRYSTALYX has two distinct advantages over salt, especially in areas that are drought-affected and have low-quality forage. The study evaluated the effect of strategic low-moisture block placement on the grazing patterns of individual cows and compared the effectiveness of strategic low-moisture block and salt placement to lure cattle to graze under-utilized rangeland.
CRYSTALYX moves cows away from water to grass
Previous research has shown that cattle grazing distribution patterns can be modified by strategic placement of low-moisture block supplements. Strategic placement of CRYSTALYX barrels helps lure and keep cattle in grazing areas. The study found that cows spent more time at higher elevations and farther from water when low-moisture blocks and salt were available than when only salt was available.
CRYSTALYX helps cows better utilize existing forage
Cows in this study spent more time within 600 yards of the supplement and were more active when CRYSTALYX barrels were present. Differences occurred during both the night and day periods. Overall, cows were active (grazing) 66 minutes longer when low-moisture blocks were available than when only salt was available.
CRYSTALYX effects fall and winter resting and grazing behavior
In addition to verifying that CRYSTALYX is effective in attracting cattle to graze high and rugged rangeland, there was also insight into how the supplement modified cow behavior in the fall and winter. The supplement sites served as a resting and loafing site location. Much of the consumption of low-moisture blocks occured at night when cows would otherwise be resting. Cows bedded and rested near the locations where the CRYSTALYX was located.