AuthorDu Toit, P. C. V.
MetadataShow full item record
CitationDu Toit, P. C. V. (1996). Karoobush defoliation in the arid Karoo. Journal of Range Management, 49(2), 105-111.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractThe relation was studied between the applied stocking rates and the degree to which sheep grazed stems of various karoobush species. A rule of thumb exists amongst farmers and research workers in the Karoo, that sheep graze stems of karoobushes with a diameter of 2 mm or less. This hypothesis was examined over a period of 3 years. The meetly grazed off stems of Pentzia spinescens Less. (doringkaroo) and Rosenia humilis (Less.) Bremer (blou perdekaroo), the most abundant forage species, were measured by sliding Vernier callipers. Estimates of grazeable dry matter, as used in the estimate of the current grazing capacity, is based on the separation of clipped dry matter into grazeable and non-grazeable material. This separation is based on the 2 mm criterion. The hypothesis that sheep voluntarily graze stems with a diameter of up to 2 mm was rejected. The stems of less palatable species are seldom grazed at 2 mm diameter, while grazed stems of paintable species are often thicker than 5 mm. It was established that sheep graze stems of the less palatable karoo bushes to a mean diameter of 1.4 to 1.6 mm. This impacts directly on the method in which dry matter production is estimated for the purposes of determining grazing capacity. The long term grazing capacity norm for this area is 30 ha large stock unit-1. Based on gain ha-1 data obtained from stocking rate trials, the grazing capacity is 33.4 ha large stock unit-1. The stocking rate: grazed stem relation yields an optimum grazing capacity figure of 32.5 ha large stock unit-1. This indicates that monitoring the grazed stems of appropriate species can be used to set grazing capacity limits or adjust stocking rates.