Study urges different grazing practices

May 3, 2011 at 6:11 PM
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NEW YORK, May 3 (UPI) -- Rotational grazing of cattle on Brazil's native pasturelands could have benefits for both cattle and wildlife, U.S. researchers say.

A study conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society says grazing cattle in small areas for shorter periods before moving onto other pastures results in a greater forage base and larger, more valuable cattle. The practice also reduces incentives for deforestation, uncontrolled burning and replacement of native vegetation with exotic grasses, a conservation society release said Tuesday.

The study showed the forage base of native grasses in Brazil's Pantanal and Cerrado regions was greater in areas that were rotationally grazed and produced cattle that were 15 percent heavier.

"The results of this study show a potential win-win situation for the Pantanal and Cerrado's ranches and wildlife," study lead author Donald Parsons Eaton of the conservation society said. "Using rotational grazing techniques will produce healthier cattle for ranchers and help safeguard wildlife that call home to this incredibly biodiverse region."

Many areas in the region have already been converted to large-scale, non-sustainable ranching operations, replacing native forests and savannas with exotic grasses.

While producing high profits in the short term, the technique leaves behind an impoverished, deforested landscape prone to erosion and drought that threatens wildlife conservation, cattle health and herd production, the study said.

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