Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



2018 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report. University of Nebraska Extension MP105. Lincoln, NE.


© 2017 The Board Regents of the University of Nebraska.


During the summer of 2016 seventeen cows were fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars to evaluate activity characteristics of cattle on rangelands. Data collected included daily distance traveled, average distance from water, daily time spent at water, daily area covered, and percent of day spent active (traveling or grazing). These variables were analyzed weekly to assess changes in behavior as time within pastures increased during three time periods of the growing season. Based on data collected from mid-May to mid-September, cattle showed little changes throughout the grazing season as to levels of activity through different periods of a 24-hour day. Daily patterns indicate that cattle are most active during mid-morning and evening hours. Periods of greatest inactivity occur during early morning hours and late afternoon prior to an evening grazing bout. Distance traveled showed a general downward trend as week within pasture progressed with the exception of the early grazed pasture. Average distance of cattle from water increased, and average time at water decreased at the end of the growing season. There were no statistical differences in activity levels or average area covered as time within a pasture increased. The greater distance traveled at the beginning of grazing on a pasture suggests that cattle are more selective in their grazing patterns and go to more grazing locations.