HornLivestockGrazing Distribution

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Information about HornLivestockGrazing Distribution
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Published on January 4, 2008

Author: Fenwick

Source: authorstream.com

LIVESTOCK GRAZING DISTRIBUTION:  LIVESTOCK GRAZING DISTRIBUTION Blaine E. Horn, Ph.D. Rangeland Management Extension Educator Big Horn Mountain Area What is Grazing Distribution?:  What is Grazing Distribution? Grazing distribution refers to dispersion of grazing animals over a management unit. It is just one element of good grazing management which should include proper stocking rate, season of use, kind and proportion of livestock, and grazing system. Why is Livestock Grazing Distribution Important?:  Why is Livestock Grazing Distribution Important? The economic success of range livestock production is dependent on proper use of all forage resources. Areas within pastures that are consistently not grazed or only lightly grazed may significantly impact economic efficiency of a range livestock enterprise. As does overused areas. Purpose of Distributing Livestock Grazing:  Purpose of Distributing Livestock Grazing To obtain the maximum safe use over as wide an area as possible without causing serious damage to any portion within it. Ideal grazing distribution of livestock occurs when proper utilization extends uniformly over the entire pasture. Affects of Poor Grazing Distribution:  Affects of Poor Grazing Distribution Low harvest efficiency because a portion of the pasture is underutilized. Reduced harvest efficiency = lower animal production (per acre) Lowered range condition in localized heavily used areas. Can result in a lowering of stocking rate Development of erosion problems in heavily used areas. Factors Influencing Animal Distribution:  Factors Influencing Animal Distribution Factors causing uneven use of rangelands: Placement of water developments Rugged topography (steepness of slope) Salt/mineral/feed/rub & oiler placement Vegetation type and palatability Range sites and condition classes Wrong type of livestock Pests Weather (wind direction, temperature) Fencing patterns and pasture size Grazing system and stock density Practices to Improve Livestock Grazing Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Grazing Distribution Increase the number and/or change the location of watering points. Poor water distribution is the chief cause of poor livestock distribution on most ranges. Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments Development of water, especially new water, on rangeland has several purposes. For livestock, the aim may be better utilization of little-grazed land, or increased length of the grazing season through greater supply. Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments For wildlife, the aim is essentially the same, uniform use and more available land for the ungulates. Riparian problems may be relieved if livestock are drawn elsewhere. Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments It is recommended to have livestock water no farther apart than 1.3 miles even on the driest of rangelands. Cattle in rough topography should not have to travel over 1 mile to water. In flat country travel distance should not exceed 2 miles. Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments If animals must travel large distances between water and available forage, a series of trails will be created that gradually become larger and more numerous. These trails become water channels that cause severe erosion. Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments Although livestock will travel great distances to water, this is not in the best interest of the animal or the range resource. Longer distances between water means less live weight gains and less uniform utilization. Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments Degree of forage utilization and composition of the vegetation can be a basis for mapping zones of deterioration or areas of differing condition class around a watering point. Five such use classes – none to severe - are sufficient for planning purposes. They define the distribution problem and indicate the locations needing corrective measures (Anderson and Currier 1973). Placement of Water Developments:  Placement of Water Developments Rotation of access to watering points can improve the uniformity of pasture use and provide vegetation around watering points the opportunity to recover from grazing. This practice is often economically much more feasible than implementation of a specialized grazing system (high fence costs). Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Fencing Location, size, and shape of a grazing unit, and the direction of livestock travel, are important considerations in fence placement. Uniform grazing is difficult when several range sites occur in the same grazing unit. On small grazing units, the forage selectivity is reduced and grazing is more uniform. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Increase the number and/or change the location of salt, minerals, supplemental feeds, rubs and oilers. Salting is the planned distribution of the amount of salt required by livestock for the grazing period. Salting:  Salting Cattle movement can be altered effectively by proper placement of salt grounds. Locations should be selected so that animals will move to them and are drawn away from overgrazed or heavily trampled areas. As slope and distance from water increase, more salting locations should be used. Salting:  Salting The necessity for placing salt near water has not been demonstrated. Ordinarily one salt ground should be established for each 30 to 40 head of cattle in flat country and for each 25 head on rough range. Enough salt should be placed in each bunker to last until proper forage utilization is attained or until ten days before animals are moved. Salting:  Salting Herded sheep in bands on open range should be salted at or near their bed-grounds in the evening, away from overused sites near water. If this is done, the band will settle for the night and stay on the bed-ground, with less tendency to leave than when salting occurs in the morning. Salting:  Salting Common mistakes in salting include: Placing too much salt in one place. Locating salt grounds over one mile apart. Salting in the same location year after year. Placing salt closer than one-quarter mile from water. Not showing animals salt at new locations. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Fertilization to change species composition and improve palatability of some forage plants. Spot burning to improve palatability of areas lightly utilized. Mowing old growth to permit grazing of certain plants. Vegetation Practices:  Vegetation Practices Fertilizers sometimes change plant species composition. If the new plant is palatable at a different time than the species on the other portions of the unit, the new plant will attract the animals to that area for the time it is available and palatable. In some cases, nitrogen fertilizer makes unpalatable species attractive to grazing animals by increasing their protein content and succulence. Vegetation Practices:  Vegetation Practices The longer green period obtained from range grasses fertilized with nitrogen can be used to improve utilization of parts of a pasture with light use. Seeding highly palatable species away from water and less palatable ones near water has been suggested as a means of improving animal distribution. Vegetation Practices:  Vegetation Practices Fertilization and prescribed burning away from water may serve the same purposes as seeding. Removal of plant growth from previous years with fire will improve accessibility of new plant parts and may permit earlier grazing because of an increase in soil temperatures and light penetration. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Changing type or kinds of livestock. Rugged topography is the 2nd most important cause of poor livestock distribution. Steepness and length of slope influences use of forage by domestic and wild animals. Topography:  Topography Although steepness of slope influences distribution of cattle, this factor does not operate alone. Water usually occurs at the bottom of slopes, causing animals to congregate there. Plants near streams stay green and palatable longer than those on slopes, especially south facing slopes. Topography:  Topography Different species of animals prefer different positions on the topography. Large heavy animals such as mature cattle or horses have difficulty in traversing steep, rocky slopes. Topography:  Topography Cattle make little use of slopes over 10%, whereas sheep and goats use these areas more readily. Sheep have been found to uniformly use slopes of less than 45%, but utilization was sharply reduced on steeper slopes. Vegetation Types:  Vegetation Types All animal species prefer certain vegetational types to others. Open grasslands are preferred by cattle over heavily forested areas. Cattle prefer grasses over forbs and shrubs, whereas sheep will utilize all equally well and goats prefer browse. Kind of Livestock:  Kind of Livestock Grazing animals can be divided into three groups based on their vegetation preference: Grazers (cattle, horses), which have a diet dominated by grasses; Browsers (goats), which consume primarily forbs and shrubs; Intermediate feeders (sheep), which have no particular preference for grasses, forbs, or shrubs. Kind of Livestock:  Kind of Livestock Within species, livestock differ in their use of rangeland. Yearling cattle make better use of rugged terrain than do cows with calves. Yearlings also make better use of areas distant from water than do cows with calves. Some breeds of cattle as well as some cattle within breeds use rugged rangeland better than others. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Constructing trails into inaccessible areas. Construction of livestock trails and roads over rough, rocky areas, through dense timber, and across other barriers increases efficiency in use of rangeland. Grazing ceases away from trails in dense timber and shrub stands. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Use of herding to move livestock. Herding of cattle is necessary in large unfenced pastures in order that they use the forage evenly. One rider or a person on a wheeled vehicle can take care of approximately 500 head or 50 square miles of land, in favorable topography. Herding:  Herding The rider needs to know range condition, effects of grazing, and animal habits. Duties of the range rider include repair of fences, maintaining adequate water and salt, caring for sick animals, preventing death losses, keeping bulls distributed, and assuring proper forage utilization. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Use of grazing systems and strategies. Rotational Grazing Increases stock density when previously continuous grazed pastures are incorporated into a grazing rotation. Stock Density More livestock condensed onto a unit area of land forcing them to compete more readily for the forage resource. Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution:  Practices to Improve Livestock Distribution Predator control to permit various animal species to use areas avoided previously. Insect control to allow livestock to graze all parts of a range unit. Construction of shade structures or planting shelter belts at strategic places where natural shade and protection from wind are unavailable. Summary:  Summary Improved livestock distribution results in more uniform use of the pasture or range. Grazing pressure is relieved on more heavily used areas and increased on the none to lightly used areas. Stocking rates can possibly be increased. An increase in production on a land unit basis can be achieved. Summary:  Summary Factors that affect livestock distribution: Placement of water, salt, minerals, feed, etc. Topography and weather Kind and class of livestock Vegetation type and palatability Range sites and condition Fencing patterns and pasture size Grazing system and stock density Summary:  Summary Practices to improve livestock distribution: Water development and its placement Salt, mineral, supplemental feed, rub and oiler placements Fencing, pasture size and shape Grazing systems, stock density, and season of grazing Class and kind of livestock Vegetation manipulation – seeding, fertilizer, burning

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