Report On Observation Of The Cows

During our field trip to Poly Canon there were many species that I had observed, but the one that stood out to me the most were the cows. This species had a very prominent presence in the landscape, likely due to the fact that they were definitely the largest animal species around. The environment at Poly Canyon was very barren and dry most likely due to the hot sun and time of year, but there were still parts of the landscape that had biotic life. Most likely this type of environment would be classified as a chaparral, with an alive to dead ratio of 1:8. It had many different types of plants, overall was dominated by trees and shrubs. Most of the time when there was dark green vegetation it was clumped together in the valleys or near a water source. Due to the hot weather at Poly Canyon it seemed like the plants that had survived in the summer were used to hot weather and lack of water. I also noticed that the soil in the area would be classified as a vertosol soil. From my prior knowledge I remember that this soil is not the best for plant growth. In my opinion, Poly Canyon did not lack diversity but I wouldn’t classify the environment as very biodiverse. Furthermore, based on the look of these cattle they would likely be classified as a black angus. When observing these cattle, I noticed many things about the species. 

First off, there was a total of around 15. They all had very dark coloring and were about 7 by 4 feet wide with at least over 15 flies on each of them. When observing these cattle, I noticed many different patterns. One of the first things I noticed was that every cow had their own personality. Some liked to lie down and nap, some of them liked to scratch themselves on the trees, while others were very curious and followed the humans around. They also seemed very annoyed by flies in the area so a lot of them nibbled on themselves and tried to whip the flies with their tails. The most obvious pattern was the fact that all of the cows stood underneath the shade of the trees. I believe there are a combination of reasons for this behavior. 

My first hypothesis is that cows tend to group underneath the shade to avoid heat stress. When testing this hypothesis I believe I would need to conduct this study over a large period of time, at least for over a few years. Next, I would choose three different herds of cattle and randomly tag a few cattle in each hurd. One hurd would live in a very hot environment, the second would love in colder environment, and the third would be a mix of the two environments. Then I would follow their migration patterns to see where the cattle commonly group. Throughout the year I would have veterinary checkups on the cows to see how many cows were impacted by heat stress and then compare it to their grouping patterns. 

T.M .Brown-Brandl and few other scientists conducted a study and found that heat stress has a profound and negative impact on cattle’s well-being. It causes a reduction in growth, feed intake, and efficiency. This study shows how important shade is to cows, and backs up my hypothesis that cows go to the shade to avoid heat stress. My second hypothesis is that cows group underneath the shade because it’s near the water. I believe this hypothesis is very obvious since most animals need water to survive. 

Overall, based on my prior knowledge I found that these black angus cows have a lot of similar patterns to other roaming animals. 

09 March 2021
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