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Animal workshop well attended PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

By Julie Elliott, Rangeland Management Specialist, Wray NRCS

“There’s more to it than just moving livestock from one grazing ground to another, and have the best of both worlds (i.e. Wt gain, healthy w/good offspring).”

This is just one of the many take home messages attendees shared after listening to Dr. Fred Provenza talk about animal behavior. The Yuma County Conservation District sponsored the Animal Behavior Workshop on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009.

Despite the bitter cold, 61 people came from 11 to 600 miles one-way to attend the all day workshop held at the Roundhouse in Wray.

“Animals can respond immediately to dietary deficiencies. They are able to eat vitamins and minerals according to their deficiencies,” said Provenza. Animals are very sensitive to feedback from their digestive system. As long as they can get to a variety of forages, they can mix and match their food to meet their nutritional needs.

Learning also has a critical role in determining diet. What mom eats during the last trimester of gestation really influences what junior likes to eat. Where mom hangs out and what she eats while junior is at her side sets the behavior and eating patterns for her offspring.

That doesn’t mean animals cannot learn new dietary tricks. Young animals are curious and they will try new foods. If they keep eating the new food, other animals will try it too. While one can teach older animals new tricks, young by their very nature are more likely to take risks and try new things. When animals are moved from their ‘home’ territory, they have much to learn. They have to become familiar with the food, safe areas and much more—not just where the water is.

Asked what the take home message was for them, one attendee wrote challenging ranchers to have more diversity—to help them increase profit and to better be able to respond to change.

Additional financial support was received from the Republican River Habitat Partnership Program, Colorado Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Northeast Colorado Resource Conservation & Development, Cope Conservation District (CD) and Cheyenne County Kansas CD along organization support from the Wray Natural Resources Conservation Service Field Office.