Developing grazing strategies on arid and semiarid rangelands

TitleDeveloping grazing strategies on arid and semiarid rangelands
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication1982
AuthorsAllison C.D., Anderson D.M., Beck R.F., Donart G.B., Pieper, Rex D., Schickedanz J.G.
Conference NameProceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Management Technology
Date Published1982
Conference LocationCollege Station, TX
Keywordsarid rangelands, grazing strategies, grazing systems, review, semiarid rangelands
AbstractLivestock operators have always sought ways to improve their returns from the land. At first glance, the situation appears relatively simple: we wish to graze ranges to optimize livestock production and yet maintain the range in a highly productive state. However, the problem becomes extremely complex when one considers the wide range of climatic and managerial conditions across the rangelands of the world. Use of specialized grazing systems has been one method to increase rangeland productivity. Although intensive research into grazing schemes is fairly recent, specialized grazing methods have been utilized for many years (Hickey, 1966; Davies, 1976; Voisin, 1959). Many of these methods were developed for use on improved pastures under relatively high precipitation but principles may apply to rangelands. Most schemes on arid and semiarid rangelands have been relatively simple. Interest in specialized grazing systems in the U.S. has peaked and then waned during the last 100 years. During the late part of the 19th and the early part of the present century, early range workers such as J. G. Smith, J. L. Jardine and A. W. Sampson advocated some type of rotational grazing to promote range improvement. Sampson (1913) initiated studies on rotational grazing in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon. After World War II, interest in grazing systems was renewed by work of Hormay (1961) in California and Merrill (1954) in Texas. Two symposia on grazing systems were sponsored by the Society for Range Management (Sampson, 1951; Heady, 1969). However, adoption of specialized grazing systems by private ranchers has been slow. Success stories such as the one portrayed by Leo Merrill at Sonora did not persuade ranchers to develop such systems. Recently, however, a range ecologist from Zimbabwe has again kindled interest in a method of grazing in which intensive management provides the opportunity for high flexibility when grazing livestock. Private ranchers, as well as those grazing under permit on public ranges, have become interested in short duration grazing, more recently termed the Savory Grazing Method, in spite of relatively high initial investment costs. Since little detailed information is available on short duration grazing in North America, several universities and research stations have undertaken research to test certain hypotheses about short duration grazing. The purpose of this paper is to review some of the considerations and expectations for initiating specialized grazing strategies.