• Cattle Diets on Shortgrass Ranges with Different Amounts of Fourwing Saltbush

      Shoop, M. C.; Clark, R. C.; Laycock, W. A.; Hansen, R. M. (Society for Range Management, 1985-09-01)
      Inadequate data have existed concerning cattle preferences for fourwing saltbush [Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt.] on ranges where it is dominant, and concerning composition of cattle diets on the central shortgrass plains. In this study, food habits of cattle were estimated from fecal analyses on winter and summer pastures containing either abundant or sparse fourwing saltbush (saltbush). The abundant saltbush was on overflow and/or sandy plains range sites; sparse saltbush was on loamy plains range sites. Saltbush was a major constituent of cattle diets where abundant. The proportion of saltbush in winter diets peaked during March (55%) and declined during April. Saltbush was absent from summer diets during July, peaked during August (42%), and declined abruptly during September. Where abundant, saltbush was also the primary constituent of the forb-shrub component of diets during both winter (mean=72%) and summer (mean=44%). Deleting saltbush from the data, cattle foods consumed on pastures with sparse and abundant saltbush were correlated (0.84) during summer, but were not correlated (0.25) during winter. Relative to species frequencies in pastures, cattle diets on loamy plains range sites (sparse saltbush) contained notably larger portions of sedges (Carex spp. L.), goosefoots (Chenopodium spp. L.), and fringed sagewort (Artemisia frigida Willd.), during winter and goosefoots and scarlet globemallow [Sphaeralcea coccinea (Nutt.) Rydb.] during summer, than diets on sandy plains and overflow sites (abundant saltbush). Saltbush is a preferred and valuable forage for cattle on the central shortgrass plains, and it should be managed to maintain or improves its productivity.