Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Animal Science

First Advisor

Jameson Brennan


Energetics, Precision Technology, Smart Scales, Virtual Fencing


Beef cattle production in the U.S. is largely dependent upon extensive rangelands like the Northern Great Plains. Solutions are needed to meet both the demand of animal-based protein products for a growing world population and the desire for producers to manage for several different ecosystem functions. Virtual fencing (VF) is an emerging precision technology that has the potential to revolutionize livestock management on extensive rangeland systems. However, the need to quantify animal behavior and performance differences using emerging precision technologies, like VenceTM, is ever growing. Thus, the objective of this research was to determine the impact of virtual fencing on steers in the Northern Great Plains. Steer behavior, performance, and energetic expenditure was compared between virtually fenced rotational grazing and season long continuous grazing. Global positioning systems (GPS) and daily weight data collected were used to create and validate a precision system model to determine Net energy for activity (NEmr_act) for rangeland cattle. We found that animal behavior (grazing and resting time), performance (average daily gain, ADG), and energetic expenditure (Mcals/hd/d) was not significantly impacted by treatment group. However, treatment group did affect walking time per day, with those in the VFR walking 0.03 hours more per day than those in the CG. Our findings match aspects of previous research on animal behavior and performance based on stocking rate. This would indicate that VF technology does not negatively impact animal production. This technology is a feasible tool for managers to use in many production settings to increase efficiency, reduce labor cost, and reduce time for meeting grazing objectives.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Beef cattle.
Animal culture -- Technological innovations.
Grazing -- Management.


South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright