The Old Fort

Grazing Intensity Study

 

An eight-year study with yearling cattle grazing on native oak brush range at four levels of intensity was begun in 1977 to determine the proper stocking rate for a five-month grazing season. Optimum seasonal stocking rate was determined to be in the moderate range of six to eight acres per yearling. The relative proportions of grasses, forbs and shrubs in the diet remained the same throughout the grazing season in the two lowest stocking rates. Late in the grazing season, shrub species were selected with increasing frequency in the two more heavily stocked pastures. This reduced the quality of the diet and digestibility, and lowered individual animal gains. Gain per animal favored the light grazed pastures and gain per acre favored the heavy use pastures. The moderate level of grazing proved to be most beneficial for producing beef and maintaining plant vigor and range condition.