Fall grazing affects big game forage on rough fescue grasslands

Short, J. J., J. E. Knight
Publication Year: 
Four grazing levels of 0% (control), 50%, 70%, and 90% relative utilization were used for fall cattle grazing to determine how each level effects elk (Cervus elaphus) and deer (Odocoileus spp.) forage the following spring and summer. Authors found that plant species composition was not affected by any of the grazing levels. Percentage of green vegetation was increased by the grazing treatments in relation to standing dead material. Standing green crop was reduced in the spring but not in the summer by the 50% and 90% utilization levels. As the grazing intensity increased, percent green vegetation also increased. Summer forb and green herbaceous standing crop did not differ between the treatments. Standing dead cover, which makes the preferred green growth less accessible, was much higher in the control treatment compared to the grazed treatments. Elk and deer summer forage was enhanced due to the grazing treatments through the maintenance of forb production and improving their availability. Short and Knight suggest using the 70% relative utilization level for improving elk and deer habitat in the mountain meadow habitat types in the Intermountain West.
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Montana State University

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