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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Livestock Grazing in Rangeland Management Systems

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

Project Number: 2056-31610-005-05-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2011
End Date: Sep 30, 2016

The objective for this cooperative research project is to determine whether multispecies grazing can be used to enhance rangeland management systems.

Sheep, cattle, and horses have different grazing behaviors and different forage preferences. Sheep readily select forbs and exotic, invasive weeds, and they also consume grasses. Cattle, for example, prefer grasses over native forbs and most exotic, invasive weeds. Long-term sheep grazing during certain periods of the year will reduce forb and weed populations and enhance grass populations. By contrast, long-term cattle grazing will reduce grass populations and enhance some native forb and most exotic, invasive weed populations. Horses select a variety of forage species, but the forage species they select seem somewhat different from the ones that cattle and sheep select. Long-term, single-species grazing can shift plant communities toward undesirable compositions. Documents trust with Clark County Stockgrowers. Because of their different grazing behaviors and forage preferences, we speculate that multispecies grazing with sheep, cattle, and horses during defined periods of the year, and on defined areas of the range, will create a more uniform grazing pattern, enhance native plant communities, and improve forage quality for livestock and wildlife. Various methods will be used to assess rangeland site potential, forage communities, estimate biomass and carrying capacity, and define grazing objectives and expected outcomes. Stocking rates and grazing species will be matched with carrying capacity and grazing needs, land will be grazed during defined periods of the year, and then the land will be assessed to determine whether the grazing objectives were met and expected outcomes were obtained.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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