• Lignin and fiber digestion

      Moore, K. J.; Jung, H. J. G. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Lignin is a polymer formed from monolignols derived from the phenylpropanoid pathway in vascular plants. It is deposited in the cell walls of plants as part of the process of cell maturation. Lignin is considered an anti-quality component in forages because of its negative impact on the nutritional availability of plant fiber. Lignin interferes with the digestion of cell-wall polysaccharides by acting as a physical barrier to microbial enzymes. Lignification therefore has a direct and often important impact on the digestible energy (DE) value of the forage. There are a number of plant-related factors that affect lignification in individual plants and plant communities. Lignification is under genetic control and there are considerable differences in lignin concentration and composition among species and even genotypes within species. Genetic differences in lignification are first expressed at the cellular level and are affected by biochemical and physiological activities of the cell. As cells differentiate, differences in lignification occur depending on the tissues and organs being developed. Lignification tends to be most intense in structural tissues such as xylem and sclerenchyma. Plant organs containing high concentrations of these tissues, such as stems, are less digestible than those containing lower concentrations. The relative proportion of lignified tissues and organs typically increases as plants mature so there is often a negative relationship between digestibility and maturity. All of these plant processes respond to environmental factors that can affect the extent and impact of lignification. Temperature, soil moisture, light, and soil fertility can have either direct or indirect effects on lignification. The most useful management practices for minimizing the negative effects of lignification are manipulation of the plant community such that it contains more desirable species and harvest management to maintain plants in a vegetative stage of development.
    • 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.
    • Ranching motivations in 2 Colorado counties

      Rowe, H. I.; Bartlett, E. T.; Swanson, L. E. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      The objectives of this Colorado study were to assess primary reasons ranchers choose to stay or sell the ranch, compare the motivations for ranching between a traditional agriculturally based county and a rapidly developing county, and assess whether factors such as length of tenure, fiscal dependency on ranching, and dependency on public lands play roles in decisions to sell. Personal interviews were conducted with 37 ranchers. While land use conversion occurs for a wide variety of reasons, lack of heirs and detrimental public policy were important reasons given for selling ranches. Responses showed Routt County (a rapidly developing county) ranchers were more likely to sell due to land use conversion related issues than Moffat County ranchers (p = 0.056). Ranchers with a longer legacy on their land reported that profitability, having likely heirs, and continuing tradition enhanced their reasons to stay. Groups more "at risk" of selling were non-homesteading ranchers close to retirement, larger ranches, and ranchers dependent on ranching for income with declining profits. Large ranch owners experiencing land use conflicts with non-ranchers and ranchers modestly dependent on public forage experiencing changes in public policy regulations and land use conflicts also indicated a higher proclivity to sell. Noting how groups of ranchers are impacted by different changes can help refine community efforts related to land use conversion and create more thoughtful policy measures.
    • Restoring tallgrass prairie species mixtures on leafy spurge-infested rangeland

      Masters, R. A.; Beran, D. D.; Gaussoin, R. E. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) reduces northern Great Plains rangeland carrying capacity. Treatment strategies were evaluated that suppressed leafy spurge and facilitated establishment of mixtures of native grasses and legumes on range sites near Mason City and Tilden, Nebr. Glyphosate at 1,600 g a.i. (active ingredient) ha(-1) was applied with or without imazapic at 140 or 210 g a.i. ha(-1) in October 1995. In April 1996, standing crop was burned or mowed. Mixtures of native grasses [big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash), and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtiplendula (Michx.) Torr.)] were then planted with or without native legumes [leadplant (Amorpha canescens (Nutt.) Pursh), Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacM.), and purple prairieclover (Petalostemum purpureum (Vent.) Rybd.)] at 440 pls m(-2) into a non-tilled seedbed. Imazapic was applied at 70 g a.i. ha(-1) in June 1996 to half the plots that had been treated with imazapic in October 1995. Frequency, dry matter yield, and leafy spurge density were measured 14 to 16 months after planting. Leafy spurge density and yield were least, and frequencies and yields of the planted grasses usually were greatest where imazapic had been applied with glyphosate in October 1995. Purple prairieclover was the only planted legume to persist 14 months after planting, and yields were greatest where imazapic was applied with glyphosate. Imazapic applied in June 1996 usually did not improve planted species yields or leafy spurge control. Total vegetation yields were greater where imazapic was applied with glyphosate at both sites and where native species were seeded at Mason City. Vegetation suppression with fall-applied herbicides and removal of standing crop enabled successful establishment of desirable species, increased forage yields, and suppressed leafy spurge.
    • Review of toxic glycosides in rangeland and pasture forages

      Majak, W. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Ruminants are a diverse group of mammals, both domestic and wild species, that exhibit microbial fermentation prior to gastrointestinal activity. During the digestive process, glycosides and other natural products are exposed to ruminal microorganisms and metabolised as substrates. Most compounds are converted into nutrients but some become toxic metabolites. At least 10 types of toxic glycosides occur in forage species. Glycosides are characterized by the presence of one or more sugars linked to the alcohol or thiol functions of the non-sugar portion of the molecule, which is called the aglycone. The biological activity of the glycoside is usually determined by the chemical nature of the aglycone. The aglycones are released by microbial enzymes and may undergo further enzymatic or non-enzymatic transformations to yield toxic metabolites that can be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Microbial detoxification of the aglycone is also possible. Further biotransformation of the aglycone can occur in the liver. A review is presented on glycosides that are toxic to ruminants. The discussion covers aliphatic nitrocompounds, cyanogenic glycosides, cardiac glycosides, saponins, glucosinolates, diterpenoid glycosides, bracken glycosides, calcinogens, phenolic glycosides and ranunculin. Clinical signs of poisoning and treatment of livestock as well as management strategies for the prevention of poisoning are considered.
    • Statistical analyses of fluorometry data from chloroform filtrate of lamb feces

      Mukherjee, A.; Anderson, D. M.; Daniel, D. L.; Murray, L. W.; Tisone, G.; Fredrickson, E. L.; Estell, R. E.; Rayson, G. D.; Havstad, K. M. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Accurately identifying the botanical composition of free-ranging animal diets remains a challenge. Currently accepted procedures are time consuming, many requiring painstaking sample preparation while none produce data useful for real-time management. Automated procedures focusing on detection of chemical and/or physical plant properties using specific molecules called fluorophores offers possibilities for determining the species composition of herbivore diets. This study was designed to evaluate fluorometry techniques in herbivore diet determinations using fecal samples obtained from 13 lambs fed a basal diet of tobosa hay (Pleuraphis mutica Buckley), and containing 4 different levels (0, 10, 20, and 30%) of tarbush (Flourensia cernua D C.) leaf material. Chloroform (CHCl3) filtrate obtained from the lamb's feces was exposed to UV light from a xenon arc lamp. This caused fluorophore molecules in the filtrate to have their outer shell electrons move to a higher energy state as a result of UV light excitation. After excitation by UV light at 310, 320, 330, 340, 350, and 355 nm, the fluorophores returned to their ground state giving off light (fluorescence). This fluorescence intensity (counts) varied and when captured using appropriate electronics, produced 1,024 pairs of light intensities (counts) and fluorescent wavelengths between 175 and 818 nm in 0.63 nm increments. Previous research indicated differences among diets could be determined using distinct peaks in the red and blue regions of the visible light spectrum and a univariate (1 variable at a time) analysis. This research demonstrates the entire fluorescence data set can be used to determine differences among diets using multivariate statistics. Sequences of 5 increasingly complex statistical techniques were used to distinguish among diets: 2-dimensional plots, polynomial regression models, confidence interval plots, discriminant analysis, and 3-dimensional plots. Two-dimensional plots indicated 2 spectral fluorescence peaks, 1 in the blue-green (420-600 nm) and 1 in the red (640-720 nm) region of the visible spectrum. Because of the asymmetrical nature of these peaks, fifth-order polynomials were developed to differentiate among the 4 diets. Statistical reliability was high when discriminating between diets containing no tarbush leaf and the diets containing 30% tarbush leaf; however, it was not possible to statistically separate diets containing intermediate (10 and 20%) amounts of tarbush leaf material from each other or from the 2 extremes (0 and 30% tarbush leaf). These results suggest spectral signatures arising from fluorometry data may be useful for differentiating among botanical composition diets that differ in plant form, but that a multivariate approach may require large sample sizes.
    • 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.
    • Upland erosion under a simulated most damaging storm

      Linse, S. J.; Mergen, D. E.; Smith, J. L.; Trlica, M. J. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      A 2 year study was conducted to determine the effects of surface cover and roughness on sediment yield from plots subjected to a simulated most damaging storm. This storm, based on long term sediment records from 3 Wyoming streams, produced approximately 18 mm of precipitation in 15 min with an intensity of 97 mm hour(-1). The rainfall simulator covered 2 plots; each 0.6 by 2 m. Plots were on 9% slopes with highly erosive soils (silt and fine sand texture) on native rangeland in 3 areas of Wyoming. Cover and surface roughness were measured with a point frame. Sediment production typically peaked approximately 120 sec after runoff started and reached steady state within 6 min. Plots with no cover (tilled) seldom produced runoff due to high infiltration and the short duration rainfall. Sediment yield was moderately correlated with total cover for total cover less than 30%, and sediment yield decreased to 0.1 tonnes ha(-1) (assumed allowable soil loss) or less for greater than 30% cover. There was a weak correlation between surface roughness and sediment yield, and surface roughness was slightly correlated with total cover. These results suggested that maintaining at least 30% total cover could control sediment yields from short duration-intense storms. Experimental results also indicated considerably higher sediment yields than those predicted by the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation or a modified version of that equation.