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Targeted grazing: a natural approach to vegetation management and landscape enhancement SUSAN SCHOENIAN (Shāy-nē-ŭn) Extension Sheep & Goat Specialist Western Maryland Research & Education Centersschoen@umd.edu - www.sheepandgoat.com
GrazingTo feed on herbage in a field  Grazing by wild and domestic animals is natural. Along with fire, grazing is the oldest vegetative management tool. Grazing changes plant communities.
Two “general” kinds of grazing Uncontrolled No management Animals eat what they want; leave what they don’t want. Animals graze for as long as they want. They go where they want. Controlled Land is usually sub-divided into smaller paddocks for grazing. The type and number of animals that are allowed to graze is controlled. The length of the grazing period is managed. Pastures are rested before animals are allowed to graze re-growth. Fragile areas are fenced off.
Impacts of uncontrolled grazing Can result in overgrazing if stocking densities are too high, grazing duration is too long, and/or grazing frequency is too often. Favors undesirable plant species (e.g. invasives, noxious weeds, toxic plants). Can be destructive to the environment: erosion, deforestation, desertification, etc.
Benefits of controlled grazing Eliminates potential negative impacts of grazing on the environment.Negative -> positive Impact Improves efficiency of forage utilization. Usually returns more dollars to the producer’s pocket.
Environmental benefitsWell-managed pasture + good grazing practices  Reduce soil erosion Nutrient recycling Improve soil quality Reduce run-off Improve air and water quality. Better plant diversity, vigor, and production. Improved fish and wildlife habitat
Weeds - unwanted plants Grass Conifer Browse Forb There are many unwanted plants in our landscapes. How do we get rid of them?
Weed control options Considerations ,[object Object]
Availability
Access
Practicality
Policy
Social acceptability
Environmental impactchemical Manual mechanical biological FIRE
Targeted grazing Also called prescribed grazing “The application of a specific kind of livestock at a determined season, duration, and intensity, to accomplish defined vegetation or landscape goals.”(Launchbaugh and Walker 2006) Goat grazing bog turtle habitat in Maryland.
Pros and cons of targeted grazing PROS Cost More environmentally-friendly. Eliminate risks of other methods: dust, safety, chemicals. Livestock do not cut grass and weeds down to ground level. Socially-acceptable Natural Green image CONS Cost Rules against livestock Predator risk Animal health risk Droppings in urban areas
Challenge Demand exceeds supply. There seems to be more of a demand for grazing services than there is service providers. www.eco-goats.com www.livestockforlandscapes.com
Knowledge of animals and plants is essential for targeted grazing plants animals
Choosing the right animal for the job Goats Cattle Sheep
Understanding grazing behavior Goats ,[object Object]
Most selective grazer.
Most tolerant of secondary plant compounds.Cattle Prefer grasses. Less selective. Graze more uniformly. Least tolerant of secondary plant compounds. Sheep Prefer forbs, then grasses. Selective grazer. Tolerant of secondary plant compounds.
Small ruminants vs. cattle Sheep and goats ,[object Object]
Prefer to graze and bed on upland areas and away from wet lowlands.
Can graze steep, rocky areas.
Their smaller hooves have less of an impact.
Require better fencing
Predator riskCattle  Consume a more homogenous diet. Prefer lowlands for grazing Their bigger hooves have more of an impact (e.g. soil compaction).
Sheep vs. goats Sheep goats Grass and forb-dominated landscapes Orchards Vineyards Young tree plantations Christmas tree farms Around solar panels Heavy brush Woody plants Shrubs Trees Select most diverse diet High browse line Before and after shot at the 2009 Western Maryland  Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.
What kind of sheep or goat? Breed (size) Bigger breeds can graze or browse higher. Some breeds are hardier (more disease-resistant). Age Older animals are more likely to eat different plants. Young animals have to “learn” what to eat. Sex Females and wethers are easier to manage than intact males. Physiological condition Young, growing animals and pregnant or lactating females have higher nutritional requirements that may not be met on the job site.

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Targeted grazing

  • 1. Targeted grazing: a natural approach to vegetation management and landscape enhancement SUSAN SCHOENIAN (Shāy-nē-ŭn) Extension Sheep & Goat Specialist Western Maryland Research & Education Centersschoen@umd.edu - www.sheepandgoat.com
  • 2. GrazingTo feed on herbage in a field Grazing by wild and domestic animals is natural. Along with fire, grazing is the oldest vegetative management tool. Grazing changes plant communities.
  • 3. Two “general” kinds of grazing Uncontrolled No management Animals eat what they want; leave what they don’t want. Animals graze for as long as they want. They go where they want. Controlled Land is usually sub-divided into smaller paddocks for grazing. The type and number of animals that are allowed to graze is controlled. The length of the grazing period is managed. Pastures are rested before animals are allowed to graze re-growth. Fragile areas are fenced off.
  • 4. Impacts of uncontrolled grazing Can result in overgrazing if stocking densities are too high, grazing duration is too long, and/or grazing frequency is too often. Favors undesirable plant species (e.g. invasives, noxious weeds, toxic plants). Can be destructive to the environment: erosion, deforestation, desertification, etc.
  • 5. Benefits of controlled grazing Eliminates potential negative impacts of grazing on the environment.Negative -> positive Impact Improves efficiency of forage utilization. Usually returns more dollars to the producer’s pocket.
  • 6. Environmental benefitsWell-managed pasture + good grazing practices Reduce soil erosion Nutrient recycling Improve soil quality Reduce run-off Improve air and water quality. Better plant diversity, vigor, and production. Improved fish and wildlife habitat
  • 7. Weeds - unwanted plants Grass Conifer Browse Forb There are many unwanted plants in our landscapes. How do we get rid of them?
  • 8.
  • 14. Environmental impactchemical Manual mechanical biological FIRE
  • 15. Targeted grazing Also called prescribed grazing “The application of a specific kind of livestock at a determined season, duration, and intensity, to accomplish defined vegetation or landscape goals.”(Launchbaugh and Walker 2006) Goat grazing bog turtle habitat in Maryland.
  • 16. Pros and cons of targeted grazing PROS Cost More environmentally-friendly. Eliminate risks of other methods: dust, safety, chemicals. Livestock do not cut grass and weeds down to ground level. Socially-acceptable Natural Green image CONS Cost Rules against livestock Predator risk Animal health risk Droppings in urban areas
  • 17. Challenge Demand exceeds supply. There seems to be more of a demand for grazing services than there is service providers. www.eco-goats.com www.livestockforlandscapes.com
  • 18. Knowledge of animals and plants is essential for targeted grazing plants animals
  • 19. Choosing the right animal for the job Goats Cattle Sheep
  • 20.
  • 22. Most tolerant of secondary plant compounds.Cattle Prefer grasses. Less selective. Graze more uniformly. Least tolerant of secondary plant compounds. Sheep Prefer forbs, then grasses. Selective grazer. Tolerant of secondary plant compounds.
  • 23.
  • 24. Prefer to graze and bed on upland areas and away from wet lowlands.
  • 25. Can graze steep, rocky areas.
  • 26. Their smaller hooves have less of an impact.
  • 28. Predator riskCattle Consume a more homogenous diet. Prefer lowlands for grazing Their bigger hooves have more of an impact (e.g. soil compaction).
  • 29. Sheep vs. goats Sheep goats Grass and forb-dominated landscapes Orchards Vineyards Young tree plantations Christmas tree farms Around solar panels Heavy brush Woody plants Shrubs Trees Select most diverse diet High browse line Before and after shot at the 2009 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.
  • 30. What kind of sheep or goat? Breed (size) Bigger breeds can graze or browse higher. Some breeds are hardier (more disease-resistant). Age Older animals are more likely to eat different plants. Young animals have to “learn” what to eat. Sex Females and wethers are easier to manage than intact males. Physiological condition Young, growing animals and pregnant or lactating females have higher nutritional requirements that may not be met on the job site.
  • 31. Opportunities for targeted grazing land ownerspublic and private Contract with grazing service provider to have sheep goats graze public or private land. Entrepreneurse.g. sheep/goat producers, foresters etc. Enterprise (income) opportunity Provide grazing services for a fee.
  • 32. Land manager considerations The job may not be simple or cheaper than alternatives. The land manager and grazing service provider must have a shared vision of what they want the landscape to look like. Targeted grazing is a business. Land managers must value the service and be willing to provide fair compensation that enables service provider to make a profit.
  • 33. Enterprise considerations Healthy animals Animal welfare Containment Water Supplementation Shelter Handling Predator risk Transportation Care / supervision
  • 34. Containment Herder Fencing Permanent Woven wire High-tensile, electric Temporary Electric netting Poly wire Fencing needs to deter predators. Goats are harder to contain. Image by Brian Knox, Eco-Goats
  • 35. Land manager CONTRACT  Grazer Job description Where Time frame Payment schedule Up-front charges Indemnity cause or bonding Insurance Natural disasters We won’t work without a contract.
  • 36. Targeted grazing with sheep and/or goats Examples
  • 37. For the control of noxious weeds Before and after (leafy spurge) grazing by sheep (6 years) in Montana.
  • 38. Only ewes can prevent wildfire
  • 39. Goat powerAt University of Maryland College Park
  • 40. Goats save turtle habitat in Maryland Images by Elizabeth Ely
  • 42. Additional resources Targeted Grazing handbookhttp://www.cnr.uidaho.edu/rx-grazing/Handbook.htmhttp://www.sheepusa.org/get_page/pageID/249 Targeted Grazing Interactive Learning Modulehttp://sheepindustrynews.org/Targeted-Grazing/ Targeted Grazing: Research & Informationhttp://www.cnr.uidaho.edu/rx-grazing/science.htm
  • 43. “The natural power of herbivory and the knowledge of how grazing influencesvegetation communities can be skillfully combined to convert livestock grazing into a powerful tool for vegetation management.” (Targeted Grazing Handbook). Instead of eating me, pay me to eat!