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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Dubois, Idaho » Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research » Research » Research Project #440349

Research Project: Livestock Grazing in Rangeland Management Systems

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

Project Number: 2056-31610-007-003-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2021
End Date: Jun 30, 2026

The objective for this cooperative research project is to evaluate multi-species grazing systems that are designed to improve carrying capacity and habitat, sustain carbon sequestration processes, and mitigate risk of catastrophic wildfires and invasive weeds.

Livestock species (cattle, sheep, horses) have different grazing behaviors and forage preferences. For example, sheep readily select forbs and exotic, invasive weeds and also consume some grasses. Cattle , like bison, prefer grasses over native forbs and most exotic, invasive weeds. Horses select a variety of forage species, but the forage species they select seem somewhat different from those selected by other livestock species. Long-term, single-species grazing can shift plant communities away from desirable outcomes. Because of their different grazing behaviors and forage preferences, multi-species livestock grazing, applied in a prescriptive manner according to season and site vegetation composition, may create a more uniform grazing pattern resulting in enhanced vegetation diversity and health, improved forage quality and carrying capacity, enhanced habitat, sustained carbon sequestration processes, and reduced risk of catastrophic wildfires and invasive weeds. In accordance with the objective, 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 livestock species will be matched accordingly with carrying capacity and grazing needs, and sites will be grazed during defined periods of the year.