Plant community responses to short duration grazing in tallgrass prairie
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CitationGillen, R. L., McCollum, F. T., Hodges, M. E., Brummer, J. E., & Tate, K. W. (1991). Plant community responses to short duration grazing in tallgrass prairie. Journal of Range Management, 44(2), 124-128.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractA key to management of short duration grazing systems is maintaining proper rest periods for individual pastures, but information on the necessary length of rest periods for tallgrass prairie is limited. Research hypotheses for this study were that tallgrass prairie plant communities would respond differently to grazing schedules incorporating rest periods of varying lengths and that this response would be dependent on stocking rate. Treatments consisted of 3 grazing schedules (2, 3, or 4 rotation cycles per 152 day grazing season) and 2 stocking rates (1.6 and 2.2 times the moderate continuous rate). Plant frequency, standing crop, species composition, and forage utilization were sampled from 1985 to 1989. Precipitation was above average in 4 of the 5 study years. Grazing schedule did not affect any vegetation parameter over time. Stocking rate did not affect plant frequency or species composition. Standing crop was reduced and forage utilization increased at the higher stocking rate but these effects were consistent over time. Frequency of western ragweed [Ambrosia psilostachya DC.] and the relative species composition of the forb component increased in all grazed pastures compared to ungrazed pastures. The overall lack of major treatment effects was attributed to favorable precipitation, spring burning, and the initial high-seral successional stage of the experimental pastures.
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Grazing systems, stocking rates, and cattle behavior in southeastern WyomingHepworth, K. W.; Test, P. S.; Hart, R. H.; Waggoner, J. W.; Smith, M. A. (Society for Range Management, 1991-05-01)Grazing systems and stocking rates are used to influence livestock grazing behavior with the intent of improving livestock and vegetation performance. In 1982, a study was initiated to determine effects of continuous, rotationally deferred, and short-duration rotation grazing and moderate and heavy stocking rates on steer gains, range vegetation, and distance traveled by and activity patterns of steers. Steers were observed from dawn to dark on 12 dates during 1983, 1984, and 1985, and activity recorded every 15 minutes. Eight steers per treatment (system X stocking rate combination) per date were observed in 1983 and 1984, and 10 per treatment in 1985. In 1984 and 1985, map locations of all steers were recorded at the same times as activity, and distance traveled summed from distances between successive map locations. In 1984, activity of 3 steers per treatment was electronically monitored during darkness. Steers grazed approximately 8.6 hr per day during daylight and 1.6 hr during darkness. Steers grazed an average of 8.9 hr/day during daylight under moderate vs 8.1 hr under heavy stocking, but stocking rate interacted with date in 1984 and grazing system in 1985. Steers traveled farther under continuous than under short-duration rotation grazing at both stocking rates in 1984, but only at the high stocking rate in 1985. Steers had to travel farther to water in the continuous pastures, and may have had to cover a greater area in an effort to select a more desirable diet, particularly under heavy stocking. These differences were not reflected in differences in gain among stocking rates or grazing systems.
Grazing systems, pasture size, and cattle grazing behavior, distribution and gainsHart, R. H.; Bissio, J.; Samuel, M. J.; Waggoner, J. W. (Society for Range Management, 1993-01-01)Reduced pasture size and distance to water may be responsible for the alleged benefits of intensive time-controlled rotation grazing systems. We compared cattle gains, activity, distance traveled, and forage utilization on a time-controlled rotation system with eight 24-ha pastures, on two 24-ha pastures grazed continuously (season-long), and on a 207-ha pasture grazed continuously, all stocked at the same rate. Utilization on the 207-ha pasture, but not on the 24-ha pastures, declined with distance from water. At distances greater than 3 km from water in the 207-ha pasture, utilization was significantly less than on adjacent 24-ha pastures, at distances of 1.0 to 1.6 km from water. Cows on the 207-ha pasture travelled farther (6.1 km/day) than cows on the 24-ha rotation pastures (4.2 km/day), which traveled farther than cows on the 24-ha continuously grazed pastures (3.2 km/day). Grazing system, range site, slope, and weather had minimal effects on cow activity patterns. Gains of cows and calves were less on the 207-ha pasture (0.24 and 0.77 kg/day, respectively) than on the 24-ha rotation pastures or 24-ha continuously grazed pastures (0.42 and 0.89 kg/da, respectively), with no differences between the latter. Calculated "hoof action" on the rotation pastures was less than that demonstrated to increase seed burial and seedling emergence. Intensive rotation grazing systems are unlikely to benefit animal performance unless they reduce pasture size and distance to water below previous levels, decreasing travel distance and increasing uniformity of grazing.