Deer movement and habitat response to short duration grazing



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Texas Tech University


Recently a relatively new form of grazing management, short duration grazing (SDG), has been introduced to Texas. Since white-tailed deer are of major economic importance to ranchers, the objectives were to determine the effect SDG has on deer movement and habitat.

The study was conducted on the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife refuge, near Sinton, Texas. The study site was a 10-pasture cell-type SDG treatment and a continuously grazed treatment (COT) with identical stocking rates of 2.8 ha/au/yr. Cattle grazed each cell pasture 2 to 8 days and cell pastures were rested 32 to 47 days.

White-tailed deer traveled in SDG more than COT in their daily routines during the late spring and summer months. Home range size did not differ between treatments. Also, deer showed greater fidelity to the SDG system in the spring and responded to cattle rotation by clearly avoiding areas of cattle presence.

There was no difference in vegetation standing crop biomass or cover between SDG and COT. However, key forage species important to deer were more common in the COT than in the SDG. Visual obstruction in the SDG and COT was similar between ground level and deer height, except during fall when SDG was higher.



Deer -- Food, Grazing -- Texas, Animals -- Habitations, Range management -- Texas