On-Ranch Grazing Strategies: Context for the Rotational Grazing Dilemma
conditional inference regression tree analysis
grazing management practices
latent class analysis
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CitationRoche, L. M., Cutts, B. B., Derner, J. D., Lubell, M. N., & Tate, K. W. (2015). On-Ranch Grazing Strategies: Context for the Rotational Grazing Dilemma. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 68(3), 248–256.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractConsiderable debate remains over the efficacy of rotational grazing systems to enhance conservation and agricultural production goals on rangelands. We analyzed responses to grazing management questions in the Rangeland Decision Making Surveys of 765 California and Wyoming ranchers in order to characterize on-ranch grazing strategies and identify variables influencing strategy adoption. Two-thirds of respondents practice on-ranch rotational grazing strategies, indicating ranchers do experience benefits from rotation which have not been documented in experimental comparisons of rotational and continuous grazing systems. Limited on-ranch adoption of intensive rotational strategies (5% of respondents) indicates potential agreement between research and management perceptions about the success of this particular strategy for achieving primary livestock production goals. Over 93% of all rotational grazer respondents were characterized as using extensive intragrowing season rotation with moderate (few wk to mo) grazing period durations, moderate (2.4-8 ha·animal unit) livestock densities, and growing season rest periods. Variables associated with ranchers' grazing preferences included a mixture of human dimensions (goal setting, views on experiment and risk tolerance, information networks), ranch characteristics (total number of livestock, land types comprising ranch), and ecoregions. We also found that the majority of grazing systems research has largely been conducted at spatial and temporal scales that are orders of magnitude finer than conditions under which on-ranch adaptive grazing management strategies have been developed. Resolving the discrepancies between the grazing systems research and management knowledge base will require substantive communication and novel approaches to participatory research between scientists and managers. © 2015 Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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.