Management practices are often needed to ensure that riparian areas are not heavily grazed by livestock. A study was conducted in Montana during midsummer to evaluate the efficacy of low-stress herding and supplement placement to manage cattle grazing in riparian areas. Three treatments were evaluated in three pastures over a 3-yr period in a Latin-square design (n = 9). Each year, naïve 2-yr-old cows with calves were randomly assigned to the three treatments: 1) free-roaming control, 2) herding from perennial streams to upland target areas, and 3) herding to upland sites with low-moisture block supplements. Stubble heights along the focal stream were higher (P = 0.07) in pastures when cattle were herded (mean ± SE, 23 ± 2 cm) than in controls (15 ± 3 cm). Global positioning system telemetry data showed that herding reduced the time cows spent near (< 100 m) perennial streams (P = 0.01) and increased the use of higher elevations (P = 0.07) compared with controls. Evening visual observations provided some evidence that free-roaming cows (44% ± 19%) were in riparian areas more frequently (P = 0.11) than herded cows (23% ± 6%). Fecal abundance along the focal stream was less (P = 0.07) with herding (61.9 ± 11.4 kg · ha−1) than in controls (113.2 ± 11.4 kg · ha−1). Forage utilization within 600 m of supplement sites was greater (P = 0.06) when cows were herded to low-moisture blocks (18% ± 6%) compared with controls and herding alone (8% ± 2%). Moving cattle to uplands at midday using low-stress herding is an effective tool to reduce use of riparian areas. Herding cattle to low-moisture blocks can increase grazing of nearby upland forage but may not provide additional reduction in cattle use of riparian areas compared with herding alone.
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Vol. 61 • No. 1