Using Animal Behaviour to Improve Production and Landscape Health

Nov 03, 2009

Workshop Funded by:
“The Manitoba Forage Council gratefully acknowledges financial support received from the Agricultural Institute of Canada Foundation, through their Excellence in Extension – The Blackburn Fund.”
Manitoba Forage Council
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives
GreenCover Canada
Workshop Information

In this workshop Dr. Fred Provenza will highlight behavioral principles and processes and discuss implications for managing dynamic systems, including current issues in livestock production, ecosystem restoration including control of invasive species, wildlife damage management, biodiversity, and conservation biology such as the re-introductions of endangered species. Throughout, he’ll discuss principles and processes of plant and animal behavior as they pertain to food and habitat selection. This information can be used for enhancing livestock distribution which can change traditional foraging patterns and improve management of riparian areas, control weeds, and minimizing damage to economically valuable crops by wild and domestic herbivores.

More generally he will explore what it means economically, ecologically, and culturally for people and their livestock to be locally adapted to the landscape. Once understood, behavioral principles can be translated into practices that provide many solutions to challenges people face in managing and making a living from the land. Unlike the infrastructure of a ranch such as corrals, fences, and water development, behavioral solutions cost little to implement, they are not fossil-fuel intensive, and they are easily transferred from one situation to the next. In the case of grazing, for instance, behavioral solutions are increasingly attractive given current economic and environmental concerns.

The workshop will run for 2 ½ days and will cover the following areas:

More than a Matter of Taste: Palatability is more than a matter of taste. It involves a dynamic and ongoing interrelationship between the digestive system and the brain. It constantly changes an animals liking for forages without them being aware of this relationship. These relationships form the basis for the nutritional wisdom of the body. Understanding these relationships has provided opportunities for people to train livestock to forage in vineyards, to avoid eating poisonous plants and to better utilize invasive plants.

Transgenerational Linkages: Experiences in utero and early in life have life-long influences on animal behavior. An emerging field in genetics highlights how experiences with social and biological environments influence gene expression, and is changing forever our static view of evolution based on natural selection of beneficial mutations — a process that takes place over millennia — to one that is dynamic and ongoing within the lifetime of the individual and across generations. Understanding these processes has implications for creating animals adapted to utilizing foods and habitats available locally while minimizing inputs of costly fossil fuels.

Spice of Life: Animals satiate, that is, they get sick and tired of eating the same old foods in the same old places. Providing animals with a variety of foods and habitats enhances their productivity and health whether they are fed in confinement or foraging on pastures. Biodiversity then, is more than an ecological buzzword – it is the foundation for production and health. Because everybody is different, choice and ability to choose also allows individuality, which further enhances performance and health of each individual. This information is helping people to better develop plant mixtures that build soil, reduce dependence of plants on fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, promote the nutrition and health of animals and enhance the flavor and quality of meat for human consumption.

Course Outline

Register online now or call Souris MAFRI (204) 483-2153 with your credit card.


Manitoba Forage Council Members
Producers $75.00 on or before October 23, 2009 (early bird)
Producers $100.00 after October 23, 2009
Industry $110.00 on or before October 23, 2009 (early bird)
Industry $135.00 after October 23, 2009

Non Members
Producers $125.00 on or before October 23, 2009 (early bird),
150.00 after October 23, 2009
Industry $160.00 on or before October 23, 2009 (early bird),
$185.00 after October 23, 2009

Manitoba Forage Council Membership $40.00 per year (Membership is the calendar year is August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010). One membership fee of $40.00 permits all familly members to register at the reduced conference rate.