Friday, December 16, 2011

Are You Managing Wildlife, Livestock, Or Forage ?

Look at nearly any help wanted ad looking for ranch management and it is fairly obvious that every ranch has it's management priorities. The problem in developing management programs which focus on a certain species of animal is that they are so focused on developing a program for your particular niche that we develop tunnel vision. When we hire a manager with a specific degree to manage for our specific management niche we are often focusing our tunnel vision even more. More often than not we are like a drug addict too stoned to notice we are shooting ourselves in the foot. This is especially true in wildlife managers who have been taught that livestock competing for forage is detrimental to wildlife populations.

The tunnel vision developed by an educational system which focuses on niche management tends to overlook the bigger picture. Environmentalists and wildlife managers want to remove livestock from the land to protect it. However this is often counter productive to forage development and diversity. Many of us have, for one reason or another, come to the conclusion that if we leave the land to nature, that nature will heal the land on it's own. The only problem with this theory is that nature today is not what nature was even a hundred years ago. We  have removed the tool nature used to develop forage and plant diversity. This tool of nature was large herds of free roaming grazers that grazed through an area and were gone for a period of time, letting the land and plants rest. This grazing pattern loosened the top of the soil allowing rain to soak into the ground rather than run off, removed the top two thirds of plants allowing light to reach the base of plants speeding up photosynthesis while fertilizing the ground from feces and urine.

 When we took away the tools nature has provided to take care of itself, we minimized our chances of real improvement or even sustaining what forage we have. The only way we can viably sustain and improve the forage and environment for wildlife is to find a substitution for the tools of nature which are no longer available. 

The substitution for the large herds of grazing animals is controlled rotational grazing of  livestock. The most effective method is by training a herd of stock to act as a herd and place them in a different area to graze on a daily basis. This does not mean having a person with the herd all day, but simply training your stock to act as a herd and place them on a daily, or near daily basis. To find out more of how easy it is to train livestock to act as a herd, and how this kind of grazing system can improve conditions for your game animals and birds, visit the following websites:

By using these methods you will not only be helping improve the ecology of your ranch, but also providing food for the world.