Rangeland Ecology & Management
Society for Range Management
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Targeted livestock grazing is a proven tool for manipulating rangeland vegetation, and current knowledge about targeted livestock grazing is extensive and expanding rapidly. Targeted grazing prescriptions optimize the timing, frequency, intensity, and selectivity of grazing (or browsing) in combinations that purposely exert grazing/browsing pressure on specific plant species or portions of the landscape. Targeted grazing differs from traditional grazing management in that the goal of targeted grazing is to apply defoliation or trampling to achieve specific vegetation management objectives, whereas the goal of traditional livestock grazing management is generally the production of livestock commodities. A shared aim of targeted livestock grazing and traditional grazing management is to sustain healthy soils, flora, fauna, and water resources that, in turn, can sustain natural ecological processes (e.g., nutrient cycle, water cycle, energy flow). Targeted grazing prescriptions integrate knowledge of plant ecology, livestock nutrition, and livestock foraging behavior. Livestock can be focused on target areas through fencing, herding, or supplement placement. Although practices can be developed to minimize the impact of toxins contained in target plants, the welfare of the animals used in targeted grazing must be a priority. Monitoring is needed to determine if targeted grazing is successful and to refine techniques to improve efficacy and efficiency. Examples of previous research studies and approaches are presented to highlight the ecological benefits that can be achieved when targeted grazing is applied properly. These cases include ways to suppress invasive plants and ways to enhance wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Future research should address the potential to select more adapted and effective livestock for targeted grazing and the associated animal welfare concerns with this practice. Targeted livestock grazing provides land managers a viable alternative to mechanical, chemical, and prescribed fire treatments to manipulate rangeland vegetation.
Bailey, D., Mosley, J., Estell, R., Cibils, A., Horney, M., Hendrickson, J., Walker, J., Launchbaugh, K., Burritt, E., "Synthesis Paper: Targeted Livestock Grazing: Prescription for Healthy Rangelands." Rangeland Ecology & Management, 2019, pp. 1 - 13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2019.06.003