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Animal Industry Report

Extension Number

ASL R2268

Topic

Beef

Summary and Implications

Poorly managed grazing of beef cattle in riparian areas may contribute to sediment and nutrient loading of Midwest surface waters. In order to develop grazing systems that minimize impacts of grazing cattle on sediment and nutrient loading of pasture streams, knowledge of the effects of grazing management systems on the distribution patterns of cattle is needed. Six 30-acre cool-season grass pastures, containing predominantly smooth bromegrass and bisected by a 642-foot stream segment, were grouped into 2 blocks and assigned one of three treatments: continuous stocking - unrestricted stream access (CSU), continuous stocking - restricted stream access (CSR), and rotational stocking (RS). Cattle managed by continuous stocking with unrestricted stream access spent a greater proportion of their time in a pasture stream and within 110 feet of the stream than did cattle managed by either rotational stocking or continuous stocking with restricted stream access based on both GPS collar data and visual observations. Visual observations overestimated the proportion of time cattle spent within the stream or within 110 feet of the stream compared to data from GPS collars. The presence of an off-stream water source did not alter the proportion of time cattle spent within the pasture stream or within 110 feet of the stream. Cattle distribution patterns can be altered by grazing management, possible resulting in positive water quality impacts.

Copyright Holder

Iowa State University

Language

en

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