The University of Arizona

Elk and cattle forage use under a specialized grazing system.

L.E. Halstead, L.D. Howery, G.B. Ruyle, P.R. Krausman, R.J. Steidl


The Walker Basin Allotment grazing system in central Arizona is designed to allocate resource use under elk (Cervus elaphus L.) and cattle (Bos taurus L.) grazing. The grazing system was designed to promote biologically acceptable levels of forage use on the half of the allotment scheduled for cattle grazing and to rest the other half by attracting elk to pastures recently grazed by cattle. The objectives of our 2-year study were to determine whether the grazing system facilitated proper forage use as defined by recent forage use and residual stubble height guidelines (i.e., 30 to 40% use and an 8- to 10-cm stubble height) and whether the system rested one half of the allotment from elk and cattle grazing. Mean (+/- SEM) total elk and cattle forage use for western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii Rydb.), the key forage species, was 32 and 61% +/- 7 in 1997 and 1998, respectively; corresponding mean (+/- SEM) stubble heights were 11 and 10 cm +/- 0.6. Mean total cattle and elk forage use in 1998 (61%) exceeded the 30 to 40% use guidelines. However, mean end-of-year stubble height was never below 10 cm. The grazing system did not provide half the allotment with complete rest; elk used all study pastures. Elk use was higher in pastures with heavier tree cover and steeper terrain in both years, regardless of where cattle grazing occurred. Elk grazing patterns were apparently more dependent on tree cover and topography than any changes in forage caused by the grazing system.



feeding habits;stubble;topography;woodland grasslands;rotational grazing;Pascopyrum smithii;Cervus elaphus canadensis;wildlife management;canopy;grazing;Arizona;beef cattle;plant height

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