Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/3/2008
Publication Date: 3/18/2009
Citation: Derner, J.D., Augustine, D.J., Stapp, P., Lauenroth, W.K. 2009. Management Approaches to Accomplish Contemporary Livestock Production-Conservation Objectives in Shortgrass Steppe. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts No. 2030-6.
Technical Abstract: Traditional rangeland management in the shortgrass steppe has emphasized livestock production with moderate stocking rates, but alternative approaches will be needed to meet production objectives under increasing demands for conservation-oriented management. We investigated the utility of very intensive early spring grazing with supplemental feed, similar intensity summer cattle grazing without supplemental feed, and black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) X cattle grazing interactions to create nesting habitat suitable for the Mountain Plover (Charadius montanus), a grassland bird that has experienced population declines over the past two decades. Both the early spring grazing with supplemental feed and the prairie dog x cattle grazing treatments met or exceeded the nesting habitat requirements for Mountain Plover. In contrast, neither the intensive summer grazing treatment nor the traditionally managed control pastures met nesting habitat requirements. Average daily gains of yearling steers in the early spring pastures ranged from 0.15 to 1.02 kg hd-1 day-1 across the 5 years. Average daily gains with very intensive summer grazing were 0.25 to 1.05 kg hd-1 day-1 which was 7-77% lower than under traditional management resulting in losses of $22-272 per steer. In pastures with 20-60% occupation by prairie dogs, we observed losses of $15-38 per steer compared to moderately grazed pastures without prairie dogs. Arthropod and small mammal responses did not differ substantively among treatments. These results suggest that very intensive early spring grazing and prairie dog X cattle grazing can achieve specific conservation objectives, but there are ecological and economic tradeoffs involved in implementing these management approaches.