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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

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective for this cooperative research project is to determine whether multispecies grazing can be used to enhance rangeland management systems.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
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.

3. Progress Report:
The goal of this agreement is to use cattle, horses, and sheep grazing to annually remove excess forage on various areas of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station lands. Progress was made by Agricultural Research Service scientists in measuring vegetation production and calculating stocking rates. Accordingly, collaborator removed targeted forage using cattle and horses. Post-grazing assessment on vegetation was made. These activities will be repeated in FY2014. This collaboration supported Objective 2 of the parent project, which is focused on developing 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.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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