Much of the Murphy Wildland Fire Complex burned under extreme fuel and weather conditions that likely overshadowed livestock grazing as a factor influencing fire extent and fuel consumption in many areas where these fires burned. Differences and abrupt contrast lines in the level of fuels consumed were affected mostly by the plant communities that existed on a site before fire. A few abrupt contrasts in burn severity coincided with apparent differences in grazing patterns of livestock, observed as fence-line contrasts. Fire modeling revealed that grazing in grassland vegetation can reduce surface rate of spread and fire-line intensity to a greater extent than in shrubland types. Under extreme fire conditions (low fuel moisture, high temperatures, and gusty winds), grazing applied at moderate utilization levels has limited or negligible effects on fire behavior. However, when weather and fuel-moisture conditions are less extreme, grazing may reduce the rate of spread and intensity of fires allowing for patchy burns with low levels of fuel consumption.
Targeted livestock grazing must be carefully implemented and monitored to meet fuels management objectives on an annual and long-term basis. Grazing to reduce fuels on a landscape must be both strategic and surgical. Surgical means that targeted livestock grazing will be done to the level and limited to the minimum area needed to meet fuel and landscape or project management objectives within BLM’s regulatory framework. Therefore, sound project planning is essential.
Several wildfire prevention programs in southern Europe are currently using livestock grazing for the maintenance of fuelbreaks. This silvopastoral management is valued for being sustainable and effective in reducing fuel loads, but few studies have analyzed other impacts linked to fuelbreak grazing. This paper reports on an experiment performed within the wildfire prevention program in Andalusia (southern Spain) with the aim of clarifying and quantifying the effect of fuelbreak grazing on herbage biomass, ground cover, herbage species composition, and growth of holm oak saplings.
The experience Squaw Valley Ranch has had with fire, livestock grazing, and sage grouse centers on management strategy and flexibility. Squaw Valley Ranch and the BLM Elko District have a monitoring program that allows for year-to-year adaptations of the grazing plan, as well as long-term
planning for goals and assessment of goal achievement.
Herbivory and fire are natural interacting forces contributing to the maintenance of rangeland ecosystems. Wildfires in the sagebrush dominated ecosystems of the Great Basin are becoming larger and more frequent, and may dramatically alter plant communities and habitat. This synthesis describes what is currently known about the cumulative impacts of historic livestock grazing patterns and short-term effects of livestock grazing on fuels and fire in sagebrush ecosystems. Over years and decades grazing can alter fuel characteristics of ecosystems. On a yearly basis, grazing can reduce
the amount and alter the continuity of fine fuels, potentially changing wildlife fire spread and intensity. However, how grazing-induced fuel alterations affect wildland fire depends on weather conditions and plant community characteristics. As weather conditions become extreme, the influence of grazing on fire behavior is limited, especially in communities dominated by woody plants.
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.
The widespread abundance of cheatgrass on the foothill and semidesert ranges of the Intermountain Great Basin region causes concern to range managers of this area. During the past 20 years, crested wheatgrass has been used to replace cheatgrass on some of the more favorable sites. However, many soils supporting extensive areas of cheatgrass are so low in productivity it is believed that they should be managed as an annual grass type and used for the most effective purpose which appears to be spring range for livestock.
Yearling cattle gained weight satisfactorily on cheatgrass range under rotational (moderate) and continuous (moderate and heavy) grazing systems during a 3-year study. This study was designed to determine effects of these systems on the rangeland-not on individual plant species. Assignment of these systems to different pastures each year precluded evaluation of long-term vegetal response to the treatments. Weight gain was greatest in late spring. Grazing capacity of the range and cattle gain per acre increased through the summer, then declined. Yearly variation in production of forage and beef was apparently due to weather. Grazing capacity and beef production increased under continuous heavy grazing, but possible vegetation changes not evaluated in this study make heavy grazing undesirable.
Comparisons were made of grazing capacities and sheep gains on both cheatgrass range and on native bunchgrass range during early spring. Capacities were similar on these two range types in wet years, but were almost 60% greater on bunchgrasss range during dry years. Sheep gained an average of 0.32 lb. per head per day over three spring periods on the two vegetation types. In 2 of the 4 study years, they lost weight during the first 2-week grazing period. Sheep gains per acre were similar on the two range types.
Grazing management can be complicated with very sophisticated grazing system designs, but in this document we discuss a simple method for managing livestock to control annual grasses while allowing perennial grasses to reoccupy the sites and generating more animal production. It’s called “Green and Brown” grazing to manage annual grasses: graze when invasive annual grasses are green and desired
species are brown. This strategy is also known as time-controlled, short-duration, high-intensity grazing.