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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: The changing role of shrubs in rangeland-based livestock production systems: Can shrubs increase our forage supply?

Authors
item Estell, Richard
item Havstad, Kris
item Cibils, Andres -
item Anderson, Dean
item Schrader, Theodore

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 6, 2014
Publication Date: April 17, 2014
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58747
Citation: Estell, R.E., Havstad, K.M., Cibils, A., Anderson, D.M., Schrader, T.S. 2014. The changing role of shrubs in rangeland-based livestock production systems: Can shrubs increase our forage supply? Rangelands. 36(2):25-31.

Interpretive Summary: The world's rangelands are increasingly dominated by shrubs as more productive grasslands are converted for other uses. Yet, demand for meat is expected to continue to grow; consequently, global livestock numbers are predicted to escalate. A partial solution to the dilemma of increased livestock numbers and loss of grasslands is to more effectively utilize shrubs as a forage resource. Though mechanisms have been identified to increase shrub intake by browsing livestock, new approaches are needed to efficiently and safely utilize shrubs.

Technical Abstract: Projected global increases in ruminant numbers and loss of native grasslands will present a number of challenges for livestock agriculture. Escalated demand for livestock products may stimulate interest in using shrubs on western rangelands. A paradigm shift is needed to change the role of shrubs in rangeland ecosystems. Progress has occurred in identifying mechanisms to increase shrub use, but more solutions are needed to convert woody plants into red meat. Strategies for increasing shrub use could be important for rural communities to adapt to changing climate and shrub cover and for the livestock industry to adapt to predicted growth.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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