Submitted to: Joint Abstracts of the American Dairy Science and Society of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 5, 2011
Publication Date: January 5, 2012
Citation: Gunter, S.A., Springer, T.L., Thacker, E.T., Gillen, R.L. 2012. Effect of Patch-Burning Mixed-Grass Prairie Communities on Cattle Performance. Journal Animal Science. 89(E-Supplement 1):312-313. (Absract) Technical Abstract: Patch burning, a range management tool, has gained favor in recent years to renovate degraded rangelands. By burning a portion of a pasture, it is hypothesized that cattle will concentrate grazing on burned sites and the increased disturbance will encourage forb establishment and lessen grazing in the unburned portion. To evaluate the effect of patch burning on stocker cattle performance, three pastures ranging in size from 24 to 13 ha were selected; 2 pastures had been reseeded to native grass < 8 yr before the start of the experiment and the third site was go-back land with no record of reseeding since 1939. Each pasture was divided in half and the control side was burnt in March of 2005 before the start of the 4-yr experiment; the other half of each pasture had 25% burnt each March. Each pasture was stocked with steer calves (248 +/- 7.6 kg) at a rate of 5l.1 animal-unit-d/ha from mid-January to late-July. From January until mid-April, calves were fed 0.68 to 0.91 kg/steer of a 41% CP cottonseed meal-based supplement; cattle had access to water and plain salt during the entire grazing period. Cattle were weighed in January, mid-April, and late-July after an overnight-shrink without feed or water. Data were analyzed using GLIMMIX in SAS with treatment as the fixed effect and pasture and year as random effects. The ADG of calves on the patch-burned rangeland (0.83 kg) did not differ (P = 0.73) for cattle grazing unburned pastures (0.82 kg). Because BW did not differ (P = 0.77) in January and ADG did not differ, BW at the end of the grazing period in July did not differ (P = 0.88; average BW = 382 +/- 12.6 kg). Body weight gain/ha by calves on the patch-burned rangeland (68 kg) did not differ (P = 0.48) for cattle grazing unburned pastures (69 kg). Using the patch-burning tool on mixed-grass prairie in northwest Oklahoma did not have a detrimental effect on cattle performance. If this technique proves to augment the ecological services rangelands provide, it may become widely used by land managers.