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29 April 2022 Grazing Management on Commercial Cattle Ranches: Incorporating Foraging Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation Principles
Richard Fynn, Japie Jackson
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  • Sustainable ranch management must consider not only impacts of grazing management on range condition (ecological sustainability) but also on cattle production relative to overhead costs (economic sustainability) and on biodiversity (biological sustainability).

  • Rates of growth and reproduction in herbivore populations are determined by access to sufficient high-quality forage and concomitant optimal nutrition during the growing season. By contrast, maintenance of body condition and survival over the dormant season is determined by access to a reserve of adequate-quality forage.

  • Rotational grazing systems rely on resting paddocks after grazing for sustaining rangeland productivity and desired species composition, yet a dilemma for managers is forage loses digestibility and nutrient concentration as it matures during rest periods.

  • Grazing cattle in large, dense herds, frequently rotated through small paddocks may also compromise nutrition by increasing competition for forage and minimizing adaptive foraging movements. The economic viability of ranches is further compromised by the installation and maintenance costs of fencing numerous small paddocks across a ranch.

  • We use foraging ecology principles to highlight how intensive multipaddock grazing systems can compromise cattle production while their infrastructure requirements increase overhead costs of management, thereby minimizing profits. We provide working examples of how these problems can be practically overcome while maintaining ecological sustainability.

© 2022 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Richard Fynn and Japie Jackson "Grazing Management on Commercial Cattle Ranches: Incorporating Foraging Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation Principles," Rangelands 44(2), 136-147, (29 April 2022).
Published: 29 April 2022
cattle density
forage maturation
multi-paddock grazing systems
season-long grazing
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