Title

Behavioral Factors in Rotational Grazing Systems

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Rangelands

Volume

31

Issue

5

Publisher

Society of Range Management

Publication Date

10-2009

First Page

20

Last Page

25

Abstract

Many in the range profession are perplexed by the apparent discrepancy between experimental studies suggesting that rotational grazing carries no advantage over continuous grazing and the observations of ranchers and range managers who have personally seen benefits for livestock production and plant communities by shifting to a rotational system.2,3 We believe one reason for this seeming contradiction is that research on plant and animal production is typically designed to control for the effects of behavior of grazing animals and their owners. As researchers who have spent many years studying the behavior of range livestock and people, we argue that understanding human and animal behavior as it relates to grazing management can help to bridge the gap between science and practice. In this paper we discuss how livestock behavior factors (such as prior experience and stress) and managers’ learning processes can influence the outcomes of grazing management practices, why a standard experimental approach may not detect those influences, and how an improved knowledge of behavior can help both ranchers and researchers achieve their goals with respect to rotational grazing systems.