|STEPHENSON, MITCHELL - University Of Nebraska|
|PERRYMAN, BARRY - University Of Nevada|
|SCHULTZ, BRAD - University Of Nevada|
|SVEJCAR, TONY - Retired ARS Employee|
Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/24/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Management of areas invaded by cheatgrass, an exotic annual grass, is one of the greatest challenges for Great Basin, USA ecosystems because it increases fine fuel leading to increases in fire frequency and size. We evaluated the use of strategically placed liquid protein supplement stations to focus cattle grazing along a 4 km linear transect from water to reduce residual cheatgrass biomass in the fall. Cattle greatly reduced cheatgrass biomass along the 4 km transect from water. This suggests that strategic supplementation provides a valuable tool to target cattle grazing at specific locations within cheatgrass invaded systems to reduce fine fuel buildup. This research is of interest to land and fire mangers as well as scientists and the general public.
Technical Abstract: Management of areas invaded by cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) continues to be one of the greatest challenges for Great Basin, USA ecosystems. Targeted cattle grazing in the fall and winter has shown positive results as a management tool to reduce fine fuel biomass within cheatgrass-invaded areas, but management of targeted grazing within large pastures can be challenging. Over a 4-year period, we evaluated the use of strategically placed liquid protein supplement stations to focus cattle grazing along a linear transect from water to reduce residual cheatgrass biomass on a production scale, working ranch. Liquid protein supplement stations were moved approximately 1 km farther from water during each week of the study, eventually reaching up to 4 km from a single water source. GPS-tracked cattle visited supplement stations 52 ± 4% of the days during the study period and were within 100 m the supplement station transect line 17.7 ± 2.6% of the time: over 3 times greater (P = 0.07) than random locations (5.1 ± 2.6%). Week of the study, and the subsequent supplement distance from water, did not influence the number of visits cattle made to supplement. Rather, the duration that cattle remained at supplement was greater in week 4, when supplement was placed 4 km from water, compared to weeks 1 and 2, when supplement was 1- and 2-km from water, respectively. At the conclusion of grazing, utilization near all stations averaged 66.0 ± 5.7% and did not differ between supplement stations at 1-km, 3-km, or 4-km from water. Strategic supplementation provides a valuable tool to target cattle grazing at specific locations within cheatgrass invaded systems to reduce fine fuel biomass buildup.