Application of a simple ecological sustainability simulator (SESS) as a management tool in the semi-arid rangelands of northeastern Mexico Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • We use a simple ecological sustainability simulator (SESS) [Diaz-Solis, H., Kothmann, M.M., Hamilton, W.T., Grant, W.E., 2003. A simple ecological sustainability simulator (SESS) for stocking rate management on semi-arid grazinglands, 76, 655] for rangelands with mean annual precipitation of 500 mm to evaluate tendencies in range productivity and cattle production under four management options: (1) supplemental feeding, (2) short-term reduction of stocking rate, (3) early weaning, and (4) adjustment of breeding seasons. We have made five modifications to SESS for the present paper. (1) Cattle mortality now occurs each month as a function of body condition. (2) Cows that are not pregnant 2 months after the end of the breeding season are sold. (3) Forage intake is calculated separately for each cohort of cows. (4) Cows that have been sold or have died are replaced just before the beginning of each breeding season (except for the short-term reduction of stocking rate strategy). (5) The calculation of stocking rate now includes cows, bulls, nursing calves, weaned heifers less than 20 months of age, and pre-reproductive heifers aged 20 months or older. Simulation results suggest the four management options might be ranked from best to worst, in terms of increasing cattle production while maintaining range productivity, as: (1) short-term reduction of stocking rate, (2) adjustment of breeding seasons, (3) early weaning, and (4) supplementation. Short-term reduction of high stocking rates reduces the deterioration of range productivity because of the reduction in the number of stock. Adjustment of breeding seasons such that periods of highest energy requirements of cows and calves coincide with periods of highest forage production increases percentage pregnancy. Early weaning of calves improves the body condition of cows and increases annual production of weaned calves, but does not reduce the stocking rate and thus does not improve range productivity. Supplemental feeding, and other management practices that artificially sustain herbivores, break the negative feedback that promotes good range productivity and maintains long-term system stability. In general, strategies to increase cattle production in semi-arid rangelands should be based on the improvement of natural forage production. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Diaz-Solis, H., Kothmann, M. M., Grant, W. E., & De Luna-Villarreal, R.

citation count

  • 19

publication date

  • June 2006