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ARS Home » Plains Area » Woodward, Oklahoma » Rangeland and Pasture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #311076

Research Project: Sustaining Southern Plains Landscapes through Plant Genetics and Sound Forage-Livestock Production Systems

Location: Rangeland and Pasture Research

Title: Getting more information from your grazing research beyond cattle performance

item Gunter, Stacey
item Cole, Noel

Submitted to: American Society of Animal Science Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Research examining the nutrition of grazing ungulates can be a rewarding career, however it poses many challenges. This type of science requires the scientist to make many assumptions, deal with numerous variables across a landscape, and requires careful planning to manage these unknowns and produce a publishable experiment. The most rewarding item to researchers in this field is probably the ability to collaborate with scientists from other disciplines to research an entire system. Animal performance is a function of the soil, plant, animal, and climate interaction with one factor affecting the other. The knowledge that can be gained from studying your system with collaborating scientists is valuable beyond a quantifiable number. One area of research that has been demonstrated in recent years has been how plant structure and mass will impact instantaneous intake rate and possibly total dry matter intake (DMI). Struggles to predict DMI by grazing livestock has not been gifted with high predictive quality. The low prediction quality has probably resulted from little characterization of the sward canopy and its integration in to predictive models. Further, grazing management affects the other ecological services provided by a landscape. Ecological services are often thought of as just wildlife habitat, but these services also include carbon sequestration, water infiltration and runoff, nutrient management, and food and fuel production for a growing World population. We know that ruminants are significant emitters of carbon dioxide and methane. With the current level of interest in climate change, research examining the effects of grazing management on ecological services would be as valuable an asset to producers as animal performance data alone. The only way producers will adapt sustainable grazing systems is if these systems are as profitable as other opportunities for that same land resource. In the future, producers will need data showing the effects of their production systems on other ecological services. We will need to have those data in hand, because the public will be unwilling to wait a decade for scientists to produce it.