Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/3/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Selective grazing by cattle can be used as a tool to affect changes in species composition and forage quality. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relative palatabilities to beef cattle of 8 Great Basin grasses at vegetative, flowering and dormant phenologies in both controlled and pasture environments. Cattle foraged on the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range in plot and pasture trials. Analyses were primarily split-plot analysis of variance with 3 replicates, 3 stages of phenology as whole plots, and 8 species of grasses as treatments. Variables describing preferences included: number of visits to plants, total bites, and total grazing time. Relative preference indices, based on production and plant density, were calculated for each grass. Cattle were highly selective before grasses entered dormancy. Agropyron desertorum and Elymus cinereus respectively accounted for roughly 81 and 9% of the total bites harvested. Cattle also regrazed approximately 42% of A. desertorum plants. Selection was more equal across species after dormancy. Results were similar in plots and pastures despite radical differences in species availability. Results suggest that when the grasses are green and growing cattle would probably deplete crested wheatgrass in mixed pastures before aggressively grazing the native grasses.