Range Grazing

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers
Knowledge Nuggets
  • Range management is the art and science of obtaining sustainable animal production on native rangeland while also maintaining the natural resources.
  • There are four basic principles of range management:
    • Balance the number of animals with available forage supply.
    • Obtain a uniform distribution of animals over the range.
    • Alternate periods of grazing and rest to manage and maintain the vegetation.
    • Use the kinds of livestock most suited to the forage supply and the objectives of management.

  • The principles of range management are based on two fundamental ecological principles:
    • Physical factors, plants, and animals function as a unit and any change in one factor, such as that caused by fire or grazing, changes the whole system.
    • Vegetation changes are natural phenomena, which follow certain patterns.

  • Soil and vegetation on native rangelands developed together over time under the prevailing climate. The vegetation community that develops on a specific soil under a specific climate is called the climax community. This plant community is relatively stable, capable of perpetuating itself, and fully uses the available moisture, nutrients, and solar energy.
  • Four natural laws help explain range ecology:
    • If we keep down the shoot, we kill the root. Green leaves make the food that sustains plant roots. If too much leaf area is repeatedly harvested, the root starves and shortens, limiting the plants ability to reach moisture and soil nutrients. Eventually plants die.
    • Native stands abhor a vacuum and try to keep soil covered with vegetation. If grazing removes taller, more productive grasses, forbs, shrubs and unpalatable plants and low-growing grasses will fill the empty spaces.
    • Changes in vegetation proceed until there is a combination of plants that fit the soil and climate so perfectly that no other plants can move in. This is the climax community.
    • The principal factor limiting growth in grassland climates is water supply. More water is stored in soil covered with vegetation or a mulch of old growth than in bare soil. Bare soil increases moisture losses from evaporation and run off. Moisture conservation is critical on rangeland.
Fact Sheets

A history of Rangelands of Western Canada - PDF format only

Beneficial Management Practices for Conservation Grazing to Enhance Biological Diversity on Native Prairie - PDF format only

Some Common Grazing Management Mistakes Made by Rangeland Owners and Managers - PDF format only

Control of Pocket Gophers and Ground Squirrels

Effects of Grazing Dates on Forage and Beef Production of Mixed Prairie and Crested Wheatgrass

Managing Saskatchewan Rangeland - PDF format only

Managing Your Native Prairie Parcels - PDF format only

Management of Canadian Prairie Rangeland - PDF format only

Manure Application and Nutrient Balance on Rangeland

Politics, Policy, Settlers, and Consequences for Canadian Prairie Grasslands: A Range Management Perspective - PDF format only

Resting Forage Plants: a Beneficial Grazing Management Practice on Native Rangeland - PDF format only

Revegetating with Native Grasses in the Northern Great Plains - Professional's Manual - PDF format only

The Traditions of Our Ancestors Influence Rangeland Management - PDF format only

Research Papers

Cutting frequency and cutting height effects on rough fescue and Parry oat grass yields - PDF format only

Deer and Cattle Diets on Summer Range in British Columbia - PDF format only

Effect of American Bison (Bison bison L.) on the recovery and germinability of seeds of range forage species - PDF format only

Effects of fall Clipping or Burning in the Distribution of Chemical Constituents in Bluebunch Wheatgrass in Spring - PDF format only

Effects of grazing dates on forage and beef production of mixed prairie rangeland - PDF format only

Effects of long-term protection from grazing on phenotypic expression in geographically separated mountain rough fescue populations - available in PDF format only

Grazing Effects on Snow Accumulation on Range Fescue Grasslands - available in PDF format

Interactions between Mule Deer and Cattle on Big Sagebrush Pasture in British Columbia - available in PDF format only

Non-destructive assessment of cattle forage selection: A test of skim grazing in fescue grassland - PDF format only

Re-evaluation of native plant species for seeding and grazing by livestock on the semiarid prairie of western Canada - PDF format only

Species dynamic, forage yield, and nutritive value of seeded native plant mixtures following grazing - PDF format only

The effect of spring turn out date on weight gain by cattle on native pasture - PDF format only

The potential of legume-shrub mixtures for optimum forage production in southwestern Saskatchewan: A greenhouse study - PDF format only

Vegetation response to time-controlled grazing on Mixed and Fescue Prairie - PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Janet Fletcher.
This information published to the web on September 3, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 18, 2017.

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