Targeted grazing with small ruminants to control encroachment of one-seed juniper saplings

TitleTargeted grazing with small ruminants to control encroachment of one-seed juniper saplings
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsUtsumi S.A., Cibils AF, Estell RE, Walker J.W., Cox S.H.
Conference NameCorona Field Day Proceedings
Series TitleCorona Field Day Proceedings
Date PublishedJuly 18, 2008
Conference LocationCorona, NM
ARIS Log Number232659
KeywordsCorona, juniper, proceedings, ruminants, saplings
AbstractShrub encroachment into rangelands is a concern for livestock producers. A study was conducted to determine whether targeted grazing with small ruminants could be used to suppress one-seed juniper sapling growth. Since most domestic ruminants avoid feeding on juniper, this study focused on approaches to boost shrub browsing intensity to levels that would kill or cripple sapling growth without permanently damaging the grass understory. We tested use of goats or mixed species (goats plus sheep) during two periods of growth (summer and spring) at two stocking densities (10 and 60 m2/AU/day) with two replicates per treatment. Animals tended to strip needles and thin stems from young saplings, whereas impacts on older saplings consisted mainly of bark stripping. Mixed species high-density stocking resulted in the fewest tall saplings (> 1 m) in the low utilization category (< 33% of branches defoliated), the most small (<0.5 m) saplings with heavy use (> 66% of branches defoliated), and the fewest saplings with low (< 33%) bark stripping during spring. Fecal analysis indicated juniper intake accounted for about 25% of animal diets across treatments. A great deal of animal to animal variation was observed, with juniper intake accounting for up to 60% of some individual animal diets. Season did not affect time spent feeding on juniper or understory utilization. Rate of sapling kill and vegetation characteristics are currently being monitored. Results suggest mixed grazing at high stocking density can boost utilization of juniper saplings by goats.