Principles of Obtaining and Interpreting Utilization Data on Rangelands
A primary expression of stocking levels on rangeland vegetation is utilization defined as the proportion or degree of current years forage production that is consumed or destroyed by animals (including insects). Utilization may refer either to a single plant species, a group of species, or the vegetation as a whole. Utilization is an important factor in influencing changes in the soil, water, animal, and vegetation resources. The impact of a specific intensity of use on a plant species is highly variable depending on past and present use, period of use, duration of use, inter-specific competition, weather, availability of soil moisture for regrowth, and how these factors interact. Utilization data can be used as a guideline for moving livestock within an allotment with due consideration to season, weather conditions and the availability of forage and water in pastures scheduled for use during the same grazing season. In combination with actual use and climatic data, utilization measurements on key areas and utilization pattern mapping are useful for estimating proper stocking levels under current management. Utilization studies are helpful in identifying key and problem areas, and in identifying range improvements needed to improve livestock distribution.
Reviewed 10/2016. Originally published 5/2007.
- range management
- stocking levels