Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 46, Number 5 (September 1993) by Subjects
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Factors influencing pine needle consumption by grazing cattle during winterPonderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson) needles cause abortions in pregnant cows. We examined pine needle consumption by cattle in 2 trials in eastern Montana. Trial 1 compared pregnant and open cows (n=4) from January to March 1989; trial 2 compared pregnant cattle (n=4) that received either 9 kg alfalfa hay head-1 day-1 or 1.4 kg alfalfa pellets head-1 day-1 from December 1989 to February 1990. Diets were estimated using both bite counts and fecal analysis. During trial 1, bite counts revealed pregnant and open cows consumed 45 and 42% of their grazing diets as pine needles (P>0.1). Fecal analysis showed that pregnant cows consumed more pine needles than did open cows (36% vs. 27%, respectively) (P<0.05). During trial 2, cattle consumed < 1% of their diets as pine needles. In trial 1 cattle consumed less pine litter and consumed more needles from trees as snow depth increased. Consumption of needles from trees increased as ambient temperature declined; no needles were consumed from trees when the minimum daily temperature exceeded -5” C. During both trials, grazing times decreased as temperatures declined, and increased as snow depth and wind speed decreased. We conclude that weather is a major factor influencing needle consumption; other interrelated factors may be forage availability, snow cover, and grazing time. Plne needle consumption, and the risk of abortion, in pregnant cattle appears to be greatly diminished during mild winter weather.
Sites, mowing, 2,4-D, and seasons affect bitterbrush valuesThis study was conducted in a sagebrush-bitterbrush vegetation type in southcentral Wyoming to compare the effects of mowing and 2,4-D application on shrub cover and bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata Pursh) use, preference values, browse values, and residual twig weight after summer/fall browsing by cattle and winter big game use. Areas 3 to 6 ha in size were mowed, sprayed with 2,4-D, or left untreated on 4 different sites. Total shrub cover was reduced from 38% (53% mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp. vaseyana), 37% bitterbrush) to 23% (38% sagebrush, 52% bitterbrush) by mowing, and to 17% (18% sagebrush, 64% bitterbrush) by herbicide application. Twig weight use was greater on mowed areas, on the more productive sites, and during summer cattle browsing when leaves were present than during winter browsing by big game. Frequency of use was inversely related to bitterbrush availability, although the relationship was confounded by different snow depths on different sites. Utilization values based on basal diameter were more sensitive to site and treatment effects than length and weight utilization values, but were influenced by differences in twig morphology and did not reflect differences in twig use, preference values, browse values, or browsing residual weights. Mowing produced the greatest preference values and browsing residual weights for cattle browsing and the greatest browse values for both cattle and big game. Preference values, browse values, and browsing residual weight appear to be useful indicators of site, treatment, and browsing effects.