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Livestock & Grazing Management

Livestock & Grazing Management

  • Basic topics covered in this technical reference include riparian-wetland area attributes and processes, resource assessments and inventories of riparian-wetland areas, development of good resource management objectives, management strategy factors, grazing treatments, and collaborative monitoring. Examples of tools, techniques, and treatments are provided, but they do not represent all of the “tools in the toolbox” that are available to resource managers. Although the term riparian is used alone throughout this document, riparian-wetland area is implied. While examples in this document feature running water (lotic) riparian-wetland areas for the most part, these principles are applicable to standing water (lentic) areas as well. This document is intended to provide the background and information necessary to allow managers to develop practices that will help protect riparian area resources while maintaining the viability and economic soundness of the grazing enterprise.

  • Abstract:
    Successful rangeland management maintains or restores the ability of riparian plant communities to capture sediment and stabilize streambanks. Management actions are most effective when they are focused on the vegetated streambank closest to the active channel, the greenline, where vegetation most influences erosion, deposition, landform, and water quality. Effective grazing management plans balance grazing periods, especially those with more time for re-grazing, with opportunities for plant growth by adjusting grazing timing, duration, intensity, and/or variation of use and recovery.
    Emphasizing either: a) schedules of grazing and recovery, or b) limited utilization level within the same growing season, is a fundamental choice which drives management actions, grazing criteria, and methods for short-term monitoring. To meet resource objectives and allow riparian recovery, managers use many tools and practices that allow rather than impede recovery. Economic decisions are based on both evaluation of investments and ongoing or variable costs, themselves justified by reduced expenses, increased production, or improved resource values. Ongoing management adjusts actions using short-term monitoring focused on chosen strategies. Long-term monitoring refocuses management to target priority areas first for needed functions, and then for desired resource values. Once riparian functions are established, management enables further recovery and resilience and provides opportunities for a greater variety of grazing strategies.
  • Employing livestock to manipulate vegetation is as old as grazing itself. Promoting grazing to manage vegetation as a paid service – typically called prescribed or targeted grazing – is a more recent phenomenon. As targeted grazing has gained a foothold in the land management arena, both research and experience have evolved to provide land managers and grazing service providers with more definitive tools for managing vegetation. This handbook represents a compilation of the latest research on harnessing livestock to graze targeted vegetation in ways that improve the function and appearance of a wide variety of landscapes.

    The handbook is organized both as an introduction to targeted grazing for the novice and as a useful reference for those already familiar with the topic. The chapters can be studied collectively or individually, depending on a reader’s needs, and they’re written toward an audience that includes livestock producers, land managers, landowners, grazing enthusiasts, or simply interested observers. Readers will note that the same topics appear more than once throughout the handbook, for example, discussions on animal diet selection, fencing, predators, and integration with other vegetation management tools. In each instance, the editors have tried to assure that the topics are in context and germane to that particular discussion.

  • This presentation on plants toxic to livestock was presented at the Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative meeting on July 19, 2016. 

  • This presentation at the Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative workshop on July 19, 2016 was presented by Fred Raish. 

  • This presentation on plants poisonous to horses and ruminants in southern Colorado was prepared by Gene Niles DVM, DABVT, Director of the Rocky Ford Branch of the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Both native and non-native plants are discussed. 

  • The purpose of this publication is to describe the benefits of riparian areas and how they can be managed for better agricultural and wildlife production. Management described herein will focus on the Blackland Prairie and Post Oak Savannah ecoregions of central and eastern Texas, which cover most of the Middle Trinity River basin. The recommendations given here should be viewed as a starting point for landowners who can then adapt the management plan to fit their specific property. 

  • In Riparian Areas and Grazing Management, you'll find:
    • Some help in understanding how riparian areas work and how to interpret your observations of these landscapes.
    • A way to look at riparian areas from a different perspective-how they fit into a landscape and why they are valuable.
    • Something to spark thinking about changes in livestock management (and other land uses) to improve riparian health.
    • Encouragement to make the first steps toward improving and restoring the health of riparian areas.
    • Tools and techniques, some in use by your neighbours, that you may need to solve a problem in your riparian area.
    • Where to turn to find additional information, resources and advice.
  • On April 26th, 2018, Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative hosted a workshop focused on noxious weed management and land restoration. The purpose of the workshop was to educate landowners on the serious threat of noxious weeds to both the economy and environment of Las Animas County as well as techniques to restore their land. This presentation, by Lori Brown, discusses plant growth, forage supply and demand, carrying capacity and stocking rate, roots, and livestock production. 

  • This document provides guidance on how rangeland monitoring tools, including remote sensing technology, can be used to improve rangeland management on a landscape scale. 

  • Valerie J. Horncastle, Carol L. Chambers, Brett G. Dickson

    First published: 13 January 2019



    Livestock grazing and fire can intensively modify montane meadows. Understanding how these factors affect habitat, species richness, and diversity of small mammals can inform management decisions. Few studies have investigated the independent and synergistic effects of grazing and wildfire on vegetation and small‐mammal communities, and none have focused on montane meadows in the southwestern United States. In 2012 and 2013, we captured small mammals at 105 sites to contrast occupancy, species richness, and diversity among livestock grazing levels (present, absent), wildfire severity (unburned, low, or moderate), and meadow classifications (small or large, wet or dry) in Arizona, USA. During 13,741 trap nights, we captured 1,885 rodents of 8 species. Two species represented 88% of captures: deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and Arizona montane vole (Microtus montanus arizonensis). Deer mice, Navajo Mogollon voles (Microtus mogollonensis navaho), and thirteen‐lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus monticola; a subspecies endemic to the White Mountains, AZ) had higher occupancy in large, ungrazed meadows compared to small, grazed meadows. Species richness was greater in unburned than burned sites and small meadows than large. However, higher diversity occurred in ungrazed and dry compared to grazed and wet meadows. Three species demonstrated weak relationships between wildfire and occupancy, suggesting short‐term (<2 yrs) effects of low to moderate burn severity for these species or their habitat. Livestock grazing had a greater effect than wildfire on the small‐mammal community by altering vegetation or other habitat elements and thus decreasing population sizes. Reducing livestock grazing would benefit small‐mammal species and increase diversity and abundance of the small‐mammal community in montane meadows. © 2019 The Wildlife Society.

  • On April 26th, 2018, Purgatoire Watershed Weed Management Collaborative hosted a workshop focused on noxious weed management and land restoration. The purpose of the workshop was to educate landowners on the serious threat of noxious weeds to both the economy and environment of Las Animas County as well as techniques to restore their land. This presentation by Ben Berlinger discusses various grazing management systems that can be employed. 
  • This research compared land cover attributes on rangeland pastures with strategically managed ranches (SGM), continuously stocked (CS), and rested pastures. SGM pastures had less upland bare ground and more riparian vegetative cover than adjoining CS pastures, and SGM pastures had bare ground cover comparable to pastures rested from grazing for three or more years. Differences in riparian cover between management types were greatest in years of near-average precipitation and lower in years of high precipitation or drought. Remote sensing technology provided a means of quantifying range condition and comparing management effectiveness on large landscapes in a constantly changing environment.

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mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.



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