Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Nutritional characteristics of dormant season grazing within a winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata (Gueldenstaedt)) dominated plant community, and the effect of seedbed preparation on the emergence and survival of winterfat and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey) seedlings Public Deposited

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  • The effect of seedbed preparation on the emergence and survival of winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata (Gueldenstaedt)) and squirreltail (Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey)) seedlings was determined, while quantifying nutritional changes through the dormant season for four range species. In November of 2004 twenty 9m x 8m plots were randomly prepared with one of four treatments (rip, harrow, till, or control) for both winterfat and squirreltail. Seed was hand broadcasted and chain harrowed to complete the seeding. Seedling counts were taken in June, July, August, and September 2005, and again in June of 2006. Mature perennial species, annual frequency, and soil moisture were also monitored in each plot. Concurrently, forage samples of winterfat, squirreltail, creeping wildrye (Leymus triticoides (Buckl.), and Nuttall’s saltbush (Atriplex nuttallii (S. Wats.)) were collected for the months of November through April. Above ground biomass and fecal samples were also collected. Winterfat seedling emergence and survival was highest in the tilled treatments. Tilling treatments had the highest amount of soil moisture and reduced mature perennials and annual frequency better than the ripping, tilling, and control treatments. Squirreltail seedling emergence and survival did not differ between the treatments. However, surface roughness not provided by the tilled treatment may play a large role in capturing and providing microsite conditions necessary for natural recruitment. Analysis of the forage sampling showed crude protein to be the limiting factor for cattle to maintain fat reserves during the dormant season grazing period. This was supported by the microhistological analysis of the fecal collections that revealed 50% of the animal’s diet consisted of shrubby species, which were higher in crude protein than the grasses sampled. The results of this study demonstrated the importance of winterfat to cattle grazing dormant winter range, and the surprising potential to use both it and squirreltail in range rehabilitation efforts. The study also revealed that cattle grazing the current plant community could maintain body condition given managed properly.
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