Reducing cheatgrass fuel loads using fall cattle grazing

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Cattle grazed a cheatgrass-dominated pasture during the fall dormant period for four years (2006-2009) and were provided a protein nutrient supplement to improve their distribution, uptake of dry feed and production performance. Cheatgrass standing crop was reduced by 43 percent to 80 percent each year, and cattle weight and body condition score increased each year. The fall-grazed site had less cover from cheatgrass than the ungrazed site had. The fall-grazed site also had no decline in perennial grass cover. Cheatgrass density was 64 percent less on the grazed site after two years, and had 19 fewer plants per square foot than the adjacent ungrazed area. The seedbank potential for cheatgrass decreased much more on grazed areas than on the adjacent ungrazed areas, with a 95 percent or greater reduction in the seedbank potential. The difference was due to the grazing treatment.

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