Cattle Do Remember Locations of Preferred Food over Extended Periods

  • Ksiksi, T. (Queensland Department of Primary Industries) ;
  • Laca, E.A. (Agronomy and Range Science)
  • Received : 2001.07.24
  • Accepted : 2001.12.10
  • Published : 2002.06.01


The duration of spatial memory in cattle is potentially important for grazing management. The ability of livestock to remember the location of food patches may lead to uneven range use. In this experiment, how long cattle are able to remember food locations was determined. Six steers were used to conduct this study in a pasture with an 8 row by 8 column grid of 64 plastic containers 5 meters apart. Four randomly chosen containers were loaded with feed pellets. All steers were trained to find the loaded locations until a minimum of empty containers were visited. After this initial training, each steer was tested at 5, 10, 20 and 48 days post-training. Total number of visits (TV), number of containers visited (NC), the ratio of loaded containers (LC) to NC were recorded. Once the steers learned the locations of loaded containers NC did not increase with time since last training up to 48 days (p>0.05). Logarithmic transformation of NC (LNC) was 0.70 and 0.80 for the control and 48 day treatments, respectively. Steers were equally efficient in locating containers with feed. The steers also showed that their ability in locating food was much better than expected by chance (Z>1.62). Findings of the present study do not suggest using spatial memory decay as a tool to promote better grazing distribution. Because steers remembered food locations accurately for at least 48 days.


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