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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PROACTIVE MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE RANGELAND PRODUCTION Title: Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory’s Historic Role in the Settlement of the West and Present Contributions to Range Ecology and Livestock Research

Authors
item Petersen, Mark
item Muscha, Jennifer

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 23, 2010
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Citation: Petersen, M.K., Muscha, J.M. 2010. Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory’s Historic Role in the Settlement of the West and Present Contributions to Range Ecology and Livestock Research. Rangelands. 32(5):12-16.

Interpretive Summary: Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory is a USDA-Agriculture Research Station located in Miles City, Montana. The mission of Fort Keogh is to develop ecologically and economically sustainable range animal production systems. The work involves studies in genetics, reproductive physiology, nutrition, and range ecology. It did not, however, start out that way. After the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Fort Keogh was established on July 22, 1876, as an Army cavalry post under the direction of General Nelson A. Miles. General Mile’s main duty from 1877-1881 was to pursue the hostile Indian forces who remained in the area. Many Indians taken prisoner during this time were housed at Fort Keogh. By the early 1880's, most of the tribes had surrendered and were moved onto reservations. In 1907, all infantry troops were withdrawn, and in 1909, Fort Keogh became a Remount Station for the U.S. Army. By an Act of Congress dated April 15, 1924 (PL90, 43 Stat. 99) jurisdiction of the Fort Keogh Military Reservation was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for experiments in stock raising and growing of forage crops. Early research experiments were conducted on Rambouillet ewes and lambs, Belgian, Morgan and Thoroughbred horse sires, Bronze turkeys, and swine. Methods for genetic evaluation of beef cattle were pioneered at Fort Keogh in the 1930s. Researchers at Fort Keogh first established the role of birth weight as the most important causative factor associated with calving difficulty. Research in range improvement and management was initiated at Fort Keogh by the U.S. Forest Service in 1932. Early studies were designed to determine optimum stocking rates for cattle and sheep on Northern Great Plains rangelands. Beginning in 1936, water spreading systems were developed by building diversion dams and contour dikes. The building of diversion dams and contour dikes in 1936 first demonstrated that water normally lost to runoff could be used effectively to increase growth of native and introduced grasses. The cattle and farming operation at Fort Keogh LARRL serve to support the research work. Currently, approximately 800 acres are irrigated cropland, 2,000 acres are seeded dryland pastures and 49,000 acres are native grasslands. The cattle numbers range in size from 1200-1550 mother cows. Currently 42 staff are employed by the USDA-ARS and Montana Agriculture Experiment Station.

Technical Abstract: Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory is a USDA-Agriculture Research Station located in Miles City, Montana. The mission of Fort Keogh is to develop ecologically and economically sustainable range animal production systems. The work involves studies in genetics, reproductive physiology, nutrition, and range ecology. It did not, however, start out that way. After the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Fort Keogh was established on July 22, 1876, as an Army cavalry post under the direction of General Nelson A. Miles. General Mile’s main duty from 1877-1881 was to pursue the hostile Indian forces who remained in the area. Many Indians taken prisoner during this time were housed at Fort Keogh. By the early 1880's, most of the tribes had surrendered and were moved onto reservations. In 1907, all infantry troops were withdrawn, and in 1909, Fort Keogh became a Remount Station for the U.S. Army. By an Act of Congress dated April 15, 1924 (PL90, 43 Stat. 99) jurisdiction of the Fort Keogh Military Reservation was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for experiments in stock raising and growing of forage crops. Early research experiments were conducted on Rambouillet ewes and lambs, Belgian, Morgan and Thoroughbred horse sires, Bronze turkeys, and swine. Methods for genetic evaluation of beef cattle were pioneered at Fort Keogh in the 1930s. Researchers at Fort Keogh first established the role of birth weight as the most important causative factor associated with calving difficulty. Research in range improvement and management was initiated at Fort Keogh by the U.S. Forest Service in 1932. Early studies were designed to determine optimum stocking rates for cattle and sheep on Northern Great Plains rangelands. Beginning in 1936, water spreading systems were developed by building diversion dams and contour dikes. The building of diversion dams and contour dikes in 1936 first demonstrated that water normally lost to runoff could be used effectively to increase growth of native and introduced grasses. The cattle and farming operation at Fort Keogh LARRL serve to support the research work. Currently, approximately 800 acres are irrigated cropland, 2,000 acres are seeded dryland pastures and 49,000 acres are native grasslands. The cattle numbers range in size from 1200-1550 mother cows. Currently 42 staff are employed by the USDA-ARS and Montana Agriculture Experiment Station.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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