• 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.
    • 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.
    • Dietary structural types of polygastric herbivores at different environments and seasons

      Pelliza, A.; Willems, P.; Manacorda, M. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      A classification of dietary structural types that represents different arrangements of forage classes is proposed. It may be especially useful for interpreting and comparing herbivore diets from different environments. As an example, a data set with the botanical composition of 55 pooled fecal samples determined by microhistological analysis was analyzed. These samples came from 4 species of range herbivores (cattle, sheep, goat, and guanaco -Lama guanicoe-), from 9 different environments of Northern Patagonia (Argentina) during 3 seasons. Based on plant characteristics related with the capacity of the animals to eat and digest each plant and with the occasional or permanent presence of them in the vegetation, the information was grouped into 5 forage classes: woody plants, perennial grasses, annual grasses, grasslikes, and forbs. A principal component analysis of the grouped data was conducted. The graphic representations evidenced the gradual changes in the structure of the data. Later, working over the subspace defined by the 3 first principal component axes, a hierarchical classification was performed that resulted in 9 dietary structural types. These types represented variation that resulted from the interaction of pasture differences, species of herbivore and season. This concept is an abstraction developed from the experience, to extend its utility beyond the particular cases.
    • 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.
    • 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.