Proceedings of the Benelux ISAE conference 2016 pages:31-31
Benelux ISAE location:Berlicum (NL) date:13 October 2016
Nowadays cattle are often used in landscaping. Because cattle are sensitive to thermal discomfort, it is important to protect them if necessary. Legislation on this matter is however blurry and the knowledge on the relationship between shelter and climate conditions is limited. The objective of the present study was to investigate if cattle grazing in nature reserves in weather conditions that could potentially cause thermal discomfort, look for shade more or make use of specific areas on the terrain.
The study took place in a nature reserve of 18.74 ha, between August and November. Thirteen animals of a local double purpose breed (Kempisch Roodbont) were included in the study. Observations were carried out by a single observer between 8 am and 8 pm. Animal behavior was individually observed according to a scan sampling procedure, and the place of each animal was registered for every scan. The amount of shade percentage of the grazing location was estimated by the observer at the start of each observation, and weather conditions (temperature, humidity, temperature-humidity-index or THI) were registered on each observation day.
When THI was lower, cattle grazed in areas with short grass (P < 0.001), when THI rose they grazed in wetter areas and when THI was highest, they looked up wet wooded areas (P = 0.027). When THI was higher, they also stood in the shade more (P < 0.001).
As a conclusion, cattle used the opportunity to either look up the shade or go to wetter areas of the nature reserve when THI rose. It is therefore important to provide shaded and/or wetter areas when they are kept outdoors (e.g. for landscaping) during warm weather conditions.