The University of Arizona

Vegetation response to increased stocking rates in short-duration grazing.

M.H. Ralphs, M.M. Kothmann, C.A. Taylor

Abstract


Short-duration grazing (SDG) has been purported to increase forage production and utilization compared to other grazing systems, and thus can sustain higher stocking rates. This study was designed to determine if standing crop could be maintained as stocking rates increased. Four stocking rate treatments ranging from the recommended rate for moderate continuous grazing to 2.5 times the recommended rate were applied in a simulated 8-pasture SDG system. There was little change in frequency and composition of short-grasses over the study, but mid-grass frequency and composition both declined. Standing crop of all major forage classes declined as stocking rates increased. However, the rate of decline was less than proportional to the increase in stocking rate during the growing season. By fall, standing crop was inversely proportional to stocking rate, leading us to conclude that standing crop could not be maintained at the higher stocking rates. Low standing crop in the fall indicated a potential shortage of forage at the high stocking rates during the winter.

Keywords


availability;stocking rate;pastures;cattle;plant density;Texas;botanical composition;grazing;forage

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