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Changes in Forage Quantity and Quality with Continued Cattle Grazing in a Mountain Riparian Pasture

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  • The objective of this study was to evaluate changes in the quantity, quality, and moisture of available forage in a riparian pasture, and shrub utilization by cattle during a 30-d late summer grazing period. A riparian pasture (44.7 ha) in northeast of Oregon was grazed with 30 yearlings (419 kg, BCS = 5.05) and 30 mature cows with calves (499 kg, BCS = 4.65) from early August to early September in 2001, and from late July to late August in 2002. Sampling dates were d 0, d 10, d 20, and d 30. The forage availability before grazing was 1058 kg/ha and declined to 323 kg/ha at the end of the grazing period (P < 0.10). Grasses dominated the pasture, followed by forbs, grass-likes (sedges and/or rushes), and shrubs. Kentucky bluegrass was the most prevalent forage species followed by timothy, sedges, and common snowberry. The highest percent disappearances of forage species was (83.7 - 92.7%) observed with quackgrass, western fescue, California brome, redtop, and heartleaf arnica, though their initial contributions to the available forage were less than 5%. Timothy, elk sedge, red clover, and common snowberry were also preferred species and major components of the available vegetation. High levels of shrub utilization were observed from d 20 through the end of the grazing period (45% for willow and 59% for alder). Forbs and shrubs did not vary in moisture content over the 30 d grazing period and across the years averaging 59% and 61%, respectively (P > 0.10). In contrast, the moisture content of grasses were over 50% at the beginning of the grazing period and declined to 34% by d 20. Likewise, forbs and shrubs were higher than grasses in CP (11, 14, and 6%, respectively) and IVDMD (58, 49, and 42% respectively). In summary, our results suggest that cattle grazing late summer riparian pastures will switch to intensive shrub utilization when grasses decline in quality and quantity, and forbs decline in quantity.
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  • Darambazar, E., T. DelCurto, C. Ackerman, G. Pulsipher, and D. Damiran. 2003. Changes in forage quantity and quality with continued cattle grazing in a mountain riparian pasture. In: Proceedings of the West. Sec. of Amer. Soc. Anim. Sci. 54:324-328.
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  • Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Union, Oregon
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