Grazing Systems Research and Impact of Stocking Strategies on Pasture–Animal Production Efficiencies
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© Crop Science Society of America | 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA All rights reserved. Grazing systems research includes a wide array of component experimentation to assess plant-animal responses on pastures during short-term, seasonal, and long-term periods. Pasture-animal experiments seek to assess forage growth responses to grazing and to quantify relationships between forage growth and nutritive value to gains per animal and per hectare. These experiments have used fixed and variable stocking rate management, continuous or rotational methods of stocking, and other stocking strategies to evaluate levels of production efficiencies. Stocking strategies require the integration of periodic and total forage mass, associated nutritive attributes, specific defoliation regimen responses, and incorporation of weather conditions to meet end-point objectives. The flexible integration processes includes forage- animal databases, availability of land resources, and intuitive experience to accommodate erratic weather conditions. Scientists have the opp ortunityto develop and validate stocking strategies through long-term, site-specific grazing systems research as well as collaborative, ecoregion research efforts. Documenting the influence of stocking density on nutrient cycling, stand maintenance,ecotype diversity, and watersheds will further define soil-forage-animal responses and impacts. Management prerequisites for application of stocking strategies includes foundational forage-animal interface relationships, land resource limitations, animal husbandry behavior awareness, initiation and termination of stocking sequences, projections and expectations for climatic changes, and biological and economic risk-reward expectations. Scientists involved in grazing system research are challenged to integrate soil, forage, and animal databases to discoverand document production efficiencies and stocking strategies for implem entation by scientists, students, and stakeholders.
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