Increasing shrub use by livestock in a world with less grass

TitleIncreasing shrub use by livestock in a world with less grass
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsEstell RE, Havstad K, Cibils AF, Fredrickson E.L., Anderson D.M., Schrader ST, James D.K
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
Start Page553
Date Published11/2012
ARIS Log Number272006
Keywordsanimal behavior, cattle, genetics, goats, plant secondary metabolites, sheep

Much of the world's rangelands are dominated by woody species. Competing land uses and continued encroachment of woody species into non-woody dominated rangelands have reduced grasslands in many parts of the world. Land use conversions to fuel and feed global populations, especially for increasing numbers of middle class people seeking broader, meat-based diets, will certainly continue. Halting and/or reversing further encroachment of woody species into grasslands is slow, expensive, and in some cases, not possible. Yet, global livestock numbers continue to increase to meet the growing demand for red meat and other livestock products. How do we reconcile a world with less grass and the concurrent increased demand for forages to feed livestock, either in extensive rangeland production systems or intensive confined feeding systems? Strategies and mechanisms are needed to safely enhance shrub use by ruminants in order to capitalize on a presently underutilized forage resource. Such strategies could provide important means for rural communities to adapt to changing land cover and climate.