ARS Research Sheep Grazing - USDA ARS U.S. Sheep Experient Station and the USDA Forest Service Caribou-Targhee National Forest Agreement
Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research
2012 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Graze defined areas during defined periods. Assess rangeland and forage communites to keep land conditions enhanced and in desirable plant composition.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The intention of the research and investigation work by both ARS and the Forest Service shall be for the benefit of the entire sheep and range industry in Idaho and adjacent states, and for the general benefit of the people of the United States in accordance with the interagency agreement FS #12-IA-11041563-007 and the Temporary or Livestock Use Permit issued annually as needed.
This agreement permits ARS to use Forest Service land for sheep grazing during defined periods of the year. The land is used to provide feed for research animals, evaluate the genetic potential of sheep in environments that are consistent with sheep production on extensive rangelands, and help Forest Service accomplish their land management objectives. In 2012, ARS evaluated the performance of sheep on these lands, conducted vegetation surveys before and after grazing, and reported vegetation data and grazing conditions to the Forest Service. The ARS added the sheep data to their genetics database and used the data to make genetic selection decisions for various research projects. This project contributes to Objective 2 of the related in-house project, "Develop science-based grazing management strategies and decision support systems that can be used to guide managers to maintain or improve the ecological function of western rangelands". Additional informaton from the study is the effects of extensive grazing on expression of sheep genetic merit for various fitness and growth traits.