| Grazing and rangeland development for livestock production |
|Management of rangelands and other grazing lands of the tropics and subtropics for support of livestock production. Technical Series Bulletin No. 23|
|IV. The elements of productive grassland management.|
a. Identifying available grazing areas. The first requirement is to designate the rangeland areas open to specific herdsmen and their stock. The common practice of allowing any herdsmen who arrive first to use the forage for his herds should give way to assignment of specific grazing lands to designated groups of herdsmen. This is doubtless a government function.
b. Probable feed supplies. The probable forage producing capacity of these specific grazing lands may then be estimated, with revisions each year to adjust to apparent forage plant vigor. The number of animal units authorized to use these grazing lands may then be determined. Some flexibility is permissible if there are supplemental feed sources that the herdsmen may use. For example, if it is determined that the feed supply on a specific rangeland area will carry 100 animal units* for 12 months (or 1,200 animal unit months per year), the herdsmen may graze more animal units for a shorter period, but the total permissible grazing pressure must not exceed 1,200 animal unit months per year. The herd size must be adjusted to stay within the allowable number, by one of several methods, such as removal of livestock to other feed sources, or sale of merchantable stock, and additional reduction if necessary, by culling the breeding herd.
*One animal unit = 1 bovine, or 5 sheep, or 5 goats.
c. Selecting grazing land units for developing a grazing system. Dividing the total grassland area into several sectors, and grazing these in rotation, is a useful method of maximizing feed production and utilization without degrading carrying capacity of the grasslands. The yearly sequence of crazing the several sectors should be rotated, so that every sector will be protected every three to five years for production of seed and seedling establishment. The feeding of salt-mineral mixtures as needed to supplement the grazed forage usually increases the feed value of native plants.
d. Balancing livestock numbers in relation to available feed supplies. The yearly balancing of the grazing animal numbers against actual feed supplies should prevent the prevalent ruinous practice of overstocking that results in degradation of the rangelands, and a decline in reproduction, in growth and in physical condition of the herd. Prevention of such deterioration Is feasible; and it is sound economics to avoid the heavy expense involved in restoring grazing land productivity, and in rebuilding a decimated livestock herd after a severe drought strikes an overstocked range.
e. Providing feeds for the dry season. Supplemental feeds may be provided in several ways.
(1) Additional grazing lands are held in reserve without stocking, until such time as they are required to support the herd when normal grazing Lands are not sufficient.
(2) Feeds maybe grown and stored as hay or silage, on lands not included in the grazing areas. These can be used for breeding herd and young stock in periods of feed shortage.
(3) Crop products (stalks, vines, straw, screenings) may be saved and fed.