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ARS Home » Plains Area » Miles City, Montana » Livestock and Range Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384560

Research Project: Development of Management Strategies for Livestock Grazing, Disturbance and Climate Variation for the Northern Plains

Location: Livestock and Range Research Laboratory

Title: Contrasts in forage mineral content with patch-burn grazing: a preliminary analysis

item WANCHUK, MEGAN - North Dakota State University
item McGranahan, Devan
item SEDIVEC, KEVIN - North Dakota State University
item SWANSON, KENDALL - North Dakota State University
item HOVICK, TORRE - North Dakota State University
item LIMB, RYAN - North Dakota State University

Submitted to: Translational Animal Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/26/2021
Publication Date: 11/30/2021
Citation: Wanchuk, M.R., McGranahan, D.A., Sedivec, K.K., Swanson, K.C., Hovick, T.J., Limb, R.F. 2021. Contrasts in forage mineral content with patch-burn grazing: a preliminary analysis. Translational Animal Science. 5(S1):S75-S79.

Interpretive Summary: Rangeland grazing resources are often deficient in minerals important to livestock health and performance, and livestock producers incur substantial cost providing commercial mineral supplements. These results demonstrate that the content of four important minerals--calcium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc--is higher in areas recently burned with prescribed fire. In several cases, levels of calcium, phosphorus, and zinc met or exceeded nutritional requirements for cattle, suggesting that prescribed fire can reduce mineral supplementation costs for livestock producers.

Technical Abstract: Patch-burn grazing is a livestock management practice that provides a wide range of benefits to ecosystem conservation and livestock production. Mineral nutrition is important for livestock health and performance; however, the impact fire has on mineral content of forage in the northern Great Plains remains unknown. In this study, we determine how burning affects the mineral content of available forage through the growing season. Data were collected on mixed-grass rangeland at Central Grasslands Research Extension Center in south-central North Dakota during 2017 and 2018. Vegetation was clipped in recently burned patches and unburned patches on thin loamy ecological sites at the same sampling locations in spring and late summer. All samples were analyzed for calcium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc content. Burning increased forage mineral content across all minerals. Copper (t28= 2.61, P= <0.001), phosphorus (t28= 3.44, P= <0.001) and zinc (t28= 2.53, P= <0.001) were greater in burned patches compared to unburned patches at the beginning and end of the growing season. Calcium had similar content (t12= 4.71, n.s.) in burned and unburned patches during spring, but was greater (t12= 6.46, P= <0.001) in burned patches by late summer. Increased mineral content in forage on burned areas has the potential to reduce mineral supplementation costs and increase cow performance through enhanced immune functioning and reproductive performance.