Cattle in the Stream

Cattle in the Stream

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
I'm Bob Larson. The Cow Bell has gone high tech as researchers use GPS collars to find out how much time grazing cattle spend in streams.

After John Williams and his Oregon State University colleagues placed the collars on the cows and turned them out to graze, they were surprised with what they found ...

WILLIAMS ... "Well, the two things is that cows don't spend a long time in the riparian area and the other is that, when they do go down to the water, they tend to go down where it's easiest and they congregate in those areas. So, those have some real positive management implications that says we can manage better knowing that they spend a small amount of time down there and when they do, they concentrate there so we can work on making that as palatable as possible for not impacting the riparian areas."

Williams says affordable GPS technology made the study possible ...

WILLIAMS ... "And this is a pretty robust study. This is five years, three locations. The collars on the cows from when they turn out till they come back in in the fall. And over 3.7 data sites, points on a map, which is a lot better than we used to be able to do with a

graduate student and a tablet following the cows around."

Williams says bottom line, cows go to the water when they need to drink or cross, but don't hang out there. They spend most of their time grazing on higher, drier ground away from the streams.

The three study sites were made up of about 170 square miles of forest and rangeland in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Northeast Oregon.

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