2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Characterizing Cattle Behavior in the Rugged Rangeland of the Southeastern Oregon Using Low-Cost GPS Collars

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Dylan Mikesell


Our understanding of cattle terrain use in the rugged high desert of southeastern Oregon is limited. Across the west, public grazing is usually permitted on these lands to promote functionally healthy landscapes and mitigate risk of large scale wildfires. The objective of this study was to characterize individual cow behavior on rugged high desert rangelands in southeastern Oregon using the low cost igotU GT-120 GPS device to provide insight on cattle behavior and terrain use. Data were collected from 20 GPS collared cows over a 30-day period, 10 cows from spring 2018 and 10 cows from winter 2019 from separate pastures, set at a 10 minute interval. We characterize individual cow behavior related to slope, elevation, distance traveled, and horizontal distance to water. Individual cow differences demonstrate different cattle terrain use across adjacent pastures. We also captured 360 degree images inside the pastures to provide visual understanding of the terrain use beyond satellite images to understand terrain use more clearly. Characterizing differences and trends between individuals provides a better understanding of variations in cattle movement, which can lead to more informed management decisions on rangelands.

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