Sheep Grazing Patterns for Better Land Management: Adjusting GPS Tracking Protocol Conference Paper uri icon


  • Small ruminant livestock systems in northeast Portugal are an extensive activity based on daily grazing paths across the landscape. The flocks use multiple patches of multiple land cover types in different ways throughout the year. Shepherd and flock interactions determine the resting and feeding spots utilized by sheep and goats according to the biotic and abiotic conditions. Information about the herding home range is central to managing the land use and vegetation cover and optimizing sheep and goats' productivity in traditional systems. This study's main objective is to contribute to calibrate a shepherding GPS protocol to monitor sheep flocks based on fieldwork in Vimieiro (Mirandela) on a protected area of the European Natura 2000 network. We answer two farmers' and breeders' requests for using GPS collars to monitor the landscape usage by sheep: (1) How closely do collared sheep remain within the flock? (2) How do the collars perform on different logging frequencies to estimate patch occupancy? We analyzed the grazing paths based on three collars' 5-minute GPS positions from winter to summer solstices. We investigated the differences in extent, duration, and frequency data of each collar throughout the season change based on spatial regressions. Results show no significant differences among the three collars ranges. It also indicates that positions collected every 15 and 30 minutes could be adequate. It means that a flock monitoring low cost can be generalized, providing accurate information to manage the pastoral territory and increase the small ruminant's productivity.

publication date

  • October 1, 2021