On the Ground

In recent decades rangeland science has moved from a “command and control” framework to one that values heterogeneity, recognizes rangelands as social-ecological systems, and seeks to integrate complexity.

This new framework recognizes management as fundamentally site-specific, but rangeland science has not provided clear principles for successful livestock grazing management for use by producers and other stakeholders. This reticence has created a void often filled by prescriptive solutions that contradict our best understanding of rangeland systems.

We engaged hundreds of livestock grazing management experts in an iterative conversation to distill a set of evidence-based, adaptable principles for successful livestock grazing management in the semiarid and arid rangelands of the western United States.

The seven principles are: Practice adaptive management; Optimize stocking rate; Use a grazing plan; Prioritize ecological health; Evaluate distribution; Welfare begets performance; and Think beyond the range. The full versions of these principles contain paragraph length descriptions highlighting key considerations for each.

We envision these principles as a first draft to be improved with discussion and additional research. Further development can include definitions, suggested applications, and checklists for assessment for use in teaching, extension, and industry evaluation efforts.

Jablonski, K., Derner, J., Bailey, D., Davies, K., Meiman, P., Roche, L., Thacker, E., Vermeire, L. and Stackhouse-Lawson, K. 2024, Principles for successful livestock grazing management on western US rangelands, Rangelands, Volume 46, Issue 2, April 2024, Pages 35-41

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Also of Interest:

Grazing Twice
Informational Publication describing the benefits from multiple grazing periods, impacts on plant health and stress, animal nutrition, fire in Nevada, livestock management, and general grazing and management practices.
Swanson, S., Voth, D. 2019, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, IP-19-05
Practical Grazing Management to Maintain or Restore Riparian Functions and Values.
Successful rangeland management maintains or restores the ability of riparian plant communities to capture sediment and stabilize streambanks. Management actions are most effective when they are focused on the vegetated streambank closest to the active channel, the greenline, whe...
Swanson, S. R., Wyman, S., Evans, C. 2015, Journal of Rangeland Applications/University of Idaho, Rangeland Center, 2, 1-28.