• A proposed method for determining shrub utilization using (LA/LS) imagery

      Quilter, M. C.; Anderson, V. J. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Utilization of plant above ground biomass has continued to be a critical yet difficult assessment in rangeland monitoring. Shrub size and woody structure further compound the measurement of shrub biomass utilization. This study was designed to determine the potential utility of low altitude/large scale (LA/LS) imagery in assessing shrub utilization. A near monoculture of Ceriotoides lanata (Pursh) J.T. Howell (winterfat) located in the western desert shrubland of Utah was used to evaluate this technique. Four, 3.1 by 3.1 m plots were identified and the shrubs within the plots were defoliated by hand-picking at about 10% intervals with imagery of the plots obtained between pickings. Imagery was obtained using a radio controlled airplane (drone) fitted with a 35 mm camera. Images were evaluated using image processing software and the resulting reflectance data correlated with defoliation percentages (weight basis) for each plot. Reflectance data from images correlated highly with defoliation percentages (r2 > 0.9). This technique of using LA/LS imagery shows promise for a quick and accurate tool in assessing utilization of shrubs.
    • Cattle use of foothills rangeland near dehydrated molasses supplement

      Bailey, D. W.; Welling, G. R.; Miller, E. T. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Strategic supplement placement has been shown to be an effective tool to lure cattle to underutilized rangeland. The goal of this study was to determine where cattle grazed when supplement was placed in foothills rangeland. The study was conducted in 4 pastures in northern Montana that were dominated by cool-season grasses. For 2-week periods beginning in October 1998 and ending in January 1999, dehydrated molasses blocks (30% CP) were placed in locations within 3 pastures that were steeper and further from water. Forage utilization was measured at the time of supplement placement and again at removal. Increases in forage utilization during each period (14%) were similar (P > 0.1) at distances of 30 to 600 m from supplement, and increases were additive across periods. Forage utilization was evaluated in a fourth pasture during August and September 1999 at distances of 50 to 3,000 m from the supplement. Forage use declined (P < 0.01) at further distances from supplement, and forage use at distances less than 600 to 800 m from supplement was greater than the average of all measurements collected throughout the pasture. During the autumn and early winter at the 2 pastures located near Havre, Mont., 53% of the cows were observed within 600 m of supplement and 47% were observed at greater distances from supplement. Eighty-one of the 159 cows grazing the 2 pastures near Havre (245 and 330 ha) were fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars. The collared cows spent 37% of their time within 600 m of supplement. Uniformity of cattle grazing can be enhanced by the placement of dehydrated molasses supplement in rugged topography, and the area influenced can include distances up to 600 m from supplement.
    • Complementary grazing of native pasture and Old World bluestem

      Gillen, R. L.; Berg, W. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Native pasture and Old World bluestems (Bothriochloa spp.) have contrasting herbage production characteristics that suggest potential for incorporation into a complementary forage system. We compared 2 yearling beef production systems consisting of either native pasture (Native) or Old World bluestem combined with native pasture (Old World bluestem-Native) over 5 years. Crossbred steers (initial weight 257 kg) grazed only native pasture in the Native system, but alternated between Old World bluestem and native pastures in the Old World bluestem-Native system. Production system had no effect on the frequency of any plant species in the native pastures (P > 0.16) even though stocking rate in the growing season was increased 31% in the Old World bluestem-Native system. Peak standing crop of Old World bluestem averaged 4640 kg ha(-1) but did not differ between the cultivars 'WW-Iron Master' and 'WW-Spar' (P = 0.16). Individual steer gain was higher in the Native system during the Winter (P < 0.01) and Early Native (P = 0.03) management periods, but was greater in the Old World bluestem-Native system when steers were grazing Old World bluestem in June and July (P < 0.001). Over the entire season, steers in the Native system gained 13.5 kg head(-1) more than steers in the Old World bluestem-Native system. Total livestock production was greater in the Old World bluestem-Native system (77 versus 47 kg ha(-1), P < 0.01). Relative economic returns between the 2 systems were dependent on the marginal value of livestock gain and the relative costs of production for the 2 types of pasture. With average costs for native pasture of 17 ha(-1) and for Old World bluestem pasture of 62.10 ha(-1), the Native system was often more profitable, even though livestock production per ha was much higher with the Old World bluestem-Native system. Lower costs for native pasture and high values of livestock gain favored the Native system.
    • Economic analysis of using sheep to control leafy spurge

      Bangsund, D. A.; Nudell, D. J.; Sell, R. S.; Leistritz, F. L. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.), a widely established exotic, noxious, perennial weed, is a major threat to rangeland and wildland in the Upper Great Plains. A deterministic, bioeconomic model, incorporating relationships between sheep grazing and leafy spurge control, grass recovery, and forage consumption by cattle, and expected costs and returns from sheep enterprises was developed to evaluate the economic viability of using sheep to control leafy spurge. Various scenarios were developed depicting likely situations facing cattle ranches adding a sheep enterprise for leafy spurge control. Two levels of flock profitability, one based on a level of proficiency achieved by established sheep ranches and one substantially lower than typically achieved in the sheep industry, were combined with debt and no-debt to represent best- and worst-case scenarios, respectively. In the best-case situations, using sheep to control leafy spurge was economical in all of the scenarios examined. In the worst-case situations, the economics of using sheep to control leafy spurge were mixed across the scenarios examined. Leafy spurge control with poor flock proficiency, high fence expense, and unproductive rangeland generally was not economical. Situations with low fencing costs, moderately productive rangeland, and poor flock proficiency resulted in less economic loss than no treatment. Actual returns from leafy spurge control for most ranchers will likely fall between the extremes examined.
    • Herbivore response to anti-quality factors in forages

      Launchbaugh, K. L.; Provenza, F. D.; Pfister, J. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Plants possess a wide variety of compounds and growth forms that are termed "anti-quality" factors because they reduce forage value and deter grazing. Anti-quality attributes can reduce a plant's digestible nutrients and energy or yield toxic effects. Herbivores possess several adaptive mechanisms to lessen the impacts of anti-quality factors. First, herbivores graze selectively to limit consumption of potentially harmful plant compounds. Grazing animals rely on a sophisticated system to detect plant nutritional value or toxicity by relating the flavor of a plant to its positive or negative digestive consequences. Diet selection skills are enhanced by adaptive intake patterns that limit the deleterious effects of plant allelochemicals; these include cautious sampling of sample new foods, consuming a varied diet, and eating plants in a cyclic, intermittent, or carefully regulated fashion. Second, grazing animals possess internal systems that detoxify or tolerate ingested phytotoxins. Animals may eject toxic plant material quickly after ingestion, secrete substances in the mouth or gut to render allelochemicals inert, rely on rumen microbes to detoxify allelochemicals, absorb phytochemicals from the gut and detoxified them in body tissues, or develop a tolerance to the toxic effects of plant allelochemicals. Understanding the behavioral and metabolic abilities of herbivores suggests several livestock management practices to help animals contend with plant anti-quality characteristics. These practices include offering animals proper early life experiences, selecting the appropriate livestock species and individuals, breeding animals with desired attributes, and offering nutritional or pharmaceutical products to aid in digestion and detoxification.
    • Low density of prickly acacia under sheep grazing in Queensland

      Tiver, F.; Nicholas, M.; Kriticos, D.; Brown, J. R. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Populations of an introduced woody weed, prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile ssp. indica (Benth.) Brenan syn. Acacia arabica (Lam.) Willd. ssp. indica Benth.), were surveyed at 4 sites in central Queensland. There is a significantly lower frequency of plants of 3 m in height within populations which have been grazed by sheep, indicating that browsing by sheep reduces regeneration. There were higher losses of seedlings at a sheep-grazed site than at cattle-grazed sites. These results support previous assertions that prickly acacia is regenerating more successfully on cattle properties, because cattle both disperse seeds and are less effective herbivores. In regions of low annual rainfall, prickly acacia is capable of forming dense stands (up to 2,700 shrubs ha(-1)) in lowland landscape types. Stands are less dense in upland landscapes (maximum of 718 shrubs ha(-1)). Of most concern is that in regions of high annual rainfall prickly acacia can form extremely dense thickets across most landscape types (up to 3,400 shrubs ha(-1)). We suggest that prickly acacia is most likely to become a management problem on cattle properties, and an extreme problem in high annual rainfall areas. The inclusion of sheep in livestock rotations may be an effective control measure in the Mitchell Grasslands, but this may not always be possible. A high priority is to prevent prickly acacia from expanding its range into equivalent high rainfall areas within Queensland, and also in the Northern Territory, northern New South Wales, and Western Australia. This could be achieved by quarantining livestock which have come from infested properties until seeds have passed through the digestive tract, after about 6 days. Management strategies at the property level should aim to prevent further spread of prickly acacia by controlling cattle movements between paddocks during periods when cattle are ingesting pods and seeds.
    • Practical measures for reducing risk of alfalfa bloat in cattle

      Majak, W.; Hall, J. W.; McAllister, T. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Frothy bloat in cattle is a serious problem and is difficult to manage under field conditions as it progresses rapidly from early signs of distension to acute distress. Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada centres in Western Canada are committed to the development of bloat-free alfalfa grazing systems, which may require feed additives or supplements. As well, a new cultivar of alfalfa (AC Grazeland), selected for a low initial rate of digestion, will soon be available. In grazing trials the cultivar reduced the incidence of bloat by an average of 56% compared with the control cultivar (Beaver). Commonly accepted mineral mixes for the prevention of bloat were tested and found ineffective but we have confirmed that poloxalene (Bloatguard®) is 100% effective if it is given intraruminally at the prescribed dose. However, under practical conditions, poloxalene can only be offered free choice and protection from bloat cannot be guaranteed. We have also shown that the water soluble polymer, Blocare® 4511, when used in the water supply is 100% effective in bloat prevention. This product is not yet registered in North America. Other strategies for bloat prevention will be discussed, including the selection of growth stages and grazing schedules, and the reduction of risk by wilting alfalfa or combining it with tannin-containing forages.
    • Structural anti-quality characteristics of range and pasture plants

      Laca, E. A.; Shipley, L. A.; Reid, E. D. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Structural anti-quality characteristics are physical plant traits that reduce the performance and productivity of herbivores and quality of their agricultural products. Most structural anti-quality characteristics of plants affect the rate at which herbivores gather and ingest forages, reducing the total amount of food obtained or increasing the time necessary to obtain food. Structural anti-quality can substantially influence searching time (e.g., plant crypticity, distribution), cropping time (e.g., plant fibrousness, tensile and shear strength), and bite size (e.g., plant canopy structure, spinescence). Plant structural characteristics can also reduce digestion (e.g., silica), cause injury (e.g., spines, awns, burrs, calluses), or reduce the quality of animal products, such as wool (e.g., propagules). The effects of structural antiquality characteristics depend on the morphology of the herbivore, especially its size, the morphology of the focal plant, and their context within the habitat. Integrated grazing management plans should consider options to reduce the negative effects of structural anti-quality. Carefully selecting appropriate livestock species with previous experience, and the appropriate season of grazing can minimize anti-quality on rangelands. Because structural anti-quality may actually promote sustainability of grazing systems by preventing severe defoliation, or by providing refuges for highly desirable forages, it may not be desirable to completely counteract their effects.