Predicting Cattle Grazing Behavior on Rangeland using Accelerometers

James E. Sprinkle, Joseph K. Sagers, John B. Hall, Melinda J. Ellison, Joel V. Yelich, Jameson R. Brennan, J. Bret Taylor, James B. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The objective was to determine if 3-axis accelerometers could be used to predict daily activity for cattle grazing rangeland. There were 48 Hereford × Angus 2-yr-old low- or high-residual feed intake (LRFI or HRFI) cows used in this 2-yr trial. Cattle grazed in 4 pasture treatments consisting of continuously grazed, control (CCON); continuously grazed, supplemented (CTRT); rotationally grazed, control (RCON); and rotationally grazed, supplemented pastures (RTRT). Three LRFI- and 3 HRFI-collared cows in each treatment had accelerometers mounted for 29 d in 2016 and 45 d in 2017, beginning mid-October. Grazing time (GT), resting time (RT), and walking time (WLK) were obtained for each cow by direct observation over 3 d each year and compared with accelerometer predicted behavior. In 2016, 1.6% of the days were rejected for halter-mounted accelerometers and 3.6% were rejected in 2017 for collar-mounted accelerometers. The GT and RT were more accurately predicted than was WLK with the percentage error of predicted against observed data being 11.94% for RT, 13.51% for GT, and 30.13% for WLK in 2017. Less observation data were available in 2016, but when considering other sampling periods for the same cows and halters, the error rate was 15.1% for RT, 19.3% for GT, and 52.6% for WLK. The accelerometers successfully identified patterns of grazing behavior and differentiated among climatic, grazing system, supplementation status, and residual feed intake classification influences on GT, RT, and WLK. In a more moderate climate year, HRFI cattle appeared to rest less (P < 0.08) and walk more (P < 0.07) than LRFI cattle. Similar patterns were observed for cattle in the CCON versus CTRT treatments, with supplemented cattle resting more (P < 0.05) and walking less (P < 0.05). Accelerometers appear to be effective in determining mechanistic adaptations in grazing behavior by beef cattle on range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-170
Number of pages14
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Accelerometer
  • Beef cattle
  • Grazing behavior
  • Range

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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