An economic comparison of three cattle grazing management strategies intended to improve riparian habitat and water quality Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/dr26z088x

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  • Grazing of riparian forage by livestock may alter stream channel morphology in ways that impact nearby aquatic habitat, bank stability, vegetative cover and water quality. A number of grazing management practices have been proposed as a means to reduce the amount of time cattle spend in the riparian zone. The effectiveness and long-term economic feasibility of these grazing management practices is largely unknown. Little is known about economic differences resulting from seasonally prescribed grazing. Findings from this research will aid ranch and resource managers in making economically viable and ecologically sound resource decisions for the future. This study was conducted to analyze the economic and environmental impacts of seasonal grazing and off-stream water development on a 300 head cow-calf ranch in northeastern Oregon. A bio-economic model was developed to analyze and compare three grazing management practices at the ranch level. Economic impacts to the model ranch were analyzed by examining changes in long-run annual revenue and total net present value (NPV) expected for each of the three management practices under various rainfall conditions, cattle market scenarios and discounts rates. Late summer grazing of riparian pasture with off-stream water development yielded the highest comparable NPV across all rainfall and market price scenarios examined Changes in the discount rate inversely affected the NPV of future returns, but did not alter the optimal grazing strategy. Only slight differences in NPV were measured between early and late seasonal grazing options. Water quality monitoring results from the study were inconclusive. Results showed that the optimal strategy for the protection of water quality varied depending upon the limiting factor of highest concern. Cattle distribution indicators such as average distance from stream and streamside fecal counts, point toward early season grazing as the most effective strategy at dispersing cattle away from the stream corridor.
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