Benefits and costs in controlling sheep bonded to cattle without wire fencing

TitleBenefits and costs in controlling sheep bonded to cattle without wire fencing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsAnderson D.M., Havstad K, Shupe, W. Larry, Libeau R., Smith J.N., Murray L.W.
JournalSmall Ruminant Research
Date PublishedJune 1, 1994
Keywordsdistribution, free-ranging livestock, pen feeding, ranch economics, sheep behavior

Mixed grazing groups of IS bonded ewes and five cows consistently (100%) remained together in one of two adjoining arid rangeland paddocks during each of three seasons beginning in September 1991. The paddocks were separated with only two strands of wire fence. The bottom wire being 0.7 m off the ground. In contrast, non-bonded ewes (controls) were found in the adjoining paddock without cattle 54% of the time. This created a mean separation distance between non-bonded ewes and cattle of 977 m.  Locating ewes in the non-bonded treatment required additional time, thus reducing management efficiency and increasing costs by approx. $0.10/hd/d. In a separate study begun in January 1992 an enduring bond between sheep and cattle was produced by confining 65 to 86 day-old lambs with cattle in pens for 55 d at a cost of approx. $0.511hd/d. Bonding may provide an economically viable alternative to conventional wire fencing on many properties as a means of controlling the spatial distribution of sheep under mixed grazing.