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Small Ruminant Spatial Landscape Distribution in Queensland Australia: a case study of sheep and goats co-grazing

Wade, C., Bailey, D., Trotter, M., Hardwick, L. and Phelps, D. G. (2022) Small Ruminant Spatial Landscape Distribution in Queensland Australia: a case study of sheep and goats co-grazing. In: Australian Association of Animal Sciences 34th Biennial Conference 2022, 5–7 July 2022, Cairns, Queensland.


Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/AN/pdf/ANv62n11abs


Small ruminant landscape distribution and grazing management are becoming more important issues as the sheep and goat industry in Western Queensland continues to grow. The industry is interested in understanding how sheep and goats use the landscapes in which they graze and how this might be optimized in terms of productivity and sustainability. The objective of this study was to evaluate spatial movement patterns of Dorper sheep and rangeland goats in a case study paddock.
The Dorper sheep and rangeland goats co-grazed on the same pasture near Longreach, Queensland. Global positioning system (GPS) tracking collars were placed on a sample of the sheep and goats from the beginning of August 2019 until mid-March 2020. The GPS units recorded locations every 10 min, however not all GPS collars successfully recorded locations for the entire 8-month period. Therefore, the study period was restricted so that the analyses used tracking data for goats started on 11 August 2019 and ended 6 December 2019. The sheep data set starts 10 August 2019 and ends 31 January 2020. Tracking data from seven goats and seven sheep were used to calculate daily distance travelled, distance to water, and activity budgets. These dependent variables were compared against the daily temperature and rainfall patterns. To determine areas of high usage within the pasture, ArcMap was used to generate a hotspot analysis of the sheep and goat locations on the pasture.
Dorper sheep travelled an average of 5.6 km/d with a maximum of 11 km of travel each day. Goats travelled an average of 5.6 km with a maximum of only 9.1 km/day. Throughout the entire study both goats and Dorper sheep were an average of 0.8 km from water, with a maximum distance from water of 2.4 km for Dorper sheep and 1.9 km for goats. Both the sheep and goats were active for about 45% of the day. A hotspot analysis of the GPS tracking data showed a higher concentration of sheep and goats near water sources (Fig. 1). As the maximum daily temperature increased, sheep and goats remained closer to water (P < 0.05). The maximum distance Dorper sheep travelled from water decreased as minimum daily temperature increased (P = 0.02).
Past studies have shown variable results regarding small ruminant landscape distribution, with average daily distance travelled ranging between 3.2 km/day and 8 km/day for sheep (Lynch, 1974; Squires 1974). The current study provides more updated and precise information on sheep and goat movement across rangelands. Understanding small ruminant distribution in extensive rangeland pastures helps managers to determine optimal places to develop new water sources and implement new fences to control grazing pressure to improve landscape productivity and sustainability.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:Anchoring knowledge – exploring the animal science ecosystem Proceedings of the Australian Association of Animal Sciences Volume 34
Subjects:Animal culture > Sheep
Animal culture > Goats
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Live Archive:23 Feb 2023 05:33
Last Modified:19 Jan 2024 04:17

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