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In
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
, grazing is a method of
animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, animal fiber, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long ...
whereby domestic
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
are allowed outdoors to
roam around
roam around
and consume wild
vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular re ...

vegetation
s in order to
convert Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Conversion (Doctor Who audio), "Conversion" (''Doctor Who'' audio), an episode of the audio drama ''Cyberman'' * Conversion (Stargate Atlantis), "Conversion" (''Stargate Atlantis ...
the otherwise indigestible (by human gut)
cellulose Cellulose is an organic compound with the chemical formula, formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to many thousands of glycosidic bond, β(1→4) linked glucose, D-glucose units. Cellulose is an important stru ...

cellulose
within
grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain ...

grass
and other
forage Forage is a plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, se ...

forage
s into
meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiratio ...

meat
,
milk Milk is a nutrient A nutrient is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition * Matter, any ...

milk
,
wool Wool is the textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitti ...
and other
animal product An animal product, also known as lacticinia, is any material derived from the body of an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are organisms that form the Animalia. With few exceptions, animals , , are , can , and grow from a hollow s ...
s, often on land unsuitable for
arable farming Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be ploughed") is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of th ...
. Farmers may employ many different strategies of grazing for optimum production: grazing may be continuous, seasonal, or
rotational A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. The plane (geometry), geometric plane along which the rotation occurs is called the ''rotation plane'', and the imaginary line extending from the center an ...
within a grazing period. Longer rotations are found in
ley farming Convertible husbandry, also known as alternate husbandry or up-and-down husbandry, is a method of farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of se ...
, alternating arable and fodder crops; in rest rotation, deferred rotation, and mob grazing, giving grasses a longer time to recover or leaving land fallow. Patch-burn sets up a rotation of fresh grass after burning with two years of rest.
Conservation grazing Conservation grazing or targeted grazing is the use of semi- feral or domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and ...
deliberately uses grazing animals to improve the biodiversity of a site. Grazing has existed since the beginning of agriculture;
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...

sheep
and
goat The domestic goat or simply goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of typically kept as . It was from the (''C. aegagrus'') of and . The goat is a member of the animal family and the subfamily , meaning it is closely related ...

goat
s were
domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that sec ...

domesticated
by
nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

nomad
s before the first permanent settlements were constructed around 7000 BC, enabling
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large domestication, domesticated Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae ...

cattle
and
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus '' Sus'', is an omnivorous An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and ani ...

pig
s to be kept. Grazing's ecological effects can be positive and include redistributing nutrients, keeping grasslands open or favouring a particular species over another. There can also be negative effects to the environment with
overgrazing Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary hum ...

overgrazing
, such as
soil degradation Soil retrogression and degradation are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of a stable A stable is a building in which livestock Livestock is commonly defined as domesticated Domestication is a sust ...
,
ecological disturbance Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biology ...
and
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or distu ...
.


History

Sheep, goats cattle, and pigs were domesticated early in the
history of agriculture The history of agriculture records the domestication Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...
. Sheep were domesticated first, soon followed by goats; both species were suitable for
nomadic A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

nomadic
peoples. Cattle and pigs were domesticated somewhat later, around 7000 BC, once people started to live in fixed settlements. In America, livestock were grazed on
public land In all modern states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Colum ...
from the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
. The
Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 () is a United States federal law that provides for the regulation of grazing on the public lands (excluding Alaska) to improve rangeland conditions and regulate their use. The law initially permitted of previously u ...
was enacted after the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
to regulate the use of public land for grazing purposes.


Production

Grazing by
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
is a means of deriving food and income from lands which are generally unsuitable for
arable farming Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be ploughed") is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of th ...
: for example, in the United States, some 85% of grazing land is not suitable for crops. According to a report by the
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
, about 60% of the world's grassland (just less than half of the world's usable surface) is covered by grazing systems. It states that "Grazing systems supply about 9 percent of the world's production of
beef Beef is the culinary nameCulinary names, menu names, or kitchen names are names of foods used in the preparation or selling of food, as opposed to their names in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating pl ...

beef
and about 30 percent of the world's production of
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...
and
goat meat Goat meat or goat's meat is the meat of the domestic goat The domestic goat or simply goat (''Capra aegagrus hircus'') is a subspecies of '' C. aegagrus'' domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in whic ...

goat meat
. For an estimated 100 million people in arid areas, and probably a similar number in other zones, grazing livestock is the only possible source of livelihood."


Management

Grazing management has two overall goals, each of which is multifaceted: # Protecting the quality of the pasturage against deterioration by
overgrazing Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary hum ...

overgrazing
#* In other words, maintain the
sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is ...

sustainability
of the pasturage # Protecting the
health Health, according to the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each ...

health
of the animals against
acute Acute may refer to: Science and technology * Acute angle ** Acute triangle ** Acute, a leaf shape in the glossary of leaf morphology#acute, glossary of leaf morphology * Acute (medicine), a disease that it is of short duration and of recent onset. ...
threats, such as: ##
Grass tetany Grass tetany is a metabolic disease involving magnesium deficiency (plants), magnesium deficiency, which can occur in such ruminant livestock as beef cattle, dairy cattle and sheep, usually after grazing on pastures of rapidly growing grass, especia ...
and
nitrate poisoning Nitrate is a polyatomic ion with the chemical formula . salt (chemistry), Salts containing this ion are called nitrates. Nitrates are common components of fertilizers and explosives. Almost all inorganic nitrates are solubility, soluble in wate ...
##
Trace element __NOTOC__ A trace element, also called minor element, is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and beha ...
overdose, such as
molybdenum Molybdenum is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

molybdenum
and
selenium Selenium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that ...

selenium
poisoning ##
Grass sicknessGrass sickness, alternatively termed equine dysautonomia, is a rare but predominantly fatal illness in horses. Grass sickness may affect all types of horse, pony and donkey, and has affected some well known horses including the thoroughbred stallions ...
and
laminitis Laminitis is a disease that affects the feet of ungulates Ungulates (pronounced ) are members of a diverse clade A clade (; from grc, , ''klados'', "branch"), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms ...
in horses ##
Milk sickness Milk sickness, also known as tremetol vomiting or, in animals, as trembles, is a kind of poisoning, characterized by trembling, vomiting, and severe intestinal pain, that affects individuals who ingest milk Milk is a nutrient-rich liquid ...
in calves A proper land use and grazing management technique balances maintaining forage and livestock production, while still maintaining
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
and
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which the ...
. It does this by allowing sufficient recovery periods for regrowth. Producers can keep a low density on a pasture, so as not to overgraze. Controlled burning of the land can help in the regrowth of plants. Although grazing can be problematic for the ecosystem, well-managed grazing techniques can reverse damage and improve the land. On
commons The commons is the culture, cultural and nature, natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons c ...
in England and Wales, rights of
pasture Pasture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

pasture
(grassland grazing) and
pannage Pannage (also referred to as Eichelmast/Eckerich in Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovenia & Croatia) is the practice of releasing livestock-domestic pig, pigs in a forest, so that they can feed on fallen acorns, beechm ...

pannage
(forest grazing) for each commoner are tightly defined by number and type of animal, and by the time of year when certain rights could be exercised. For example, the occupier of a particular cottage might be allowed to graze fifteen cattle, four
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
s,
ponies A pony is a small horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction ...

ponies
or
donkey The donkey or ass is a domestic animal This page gives a list of domestic animals, also including a list of domestication of animals, animals which are or may be currently undergoing the process of domestication and animals that have an exten ...
s, and fifty
geese A goose (plural geese) is a bird of any of several waterfowl Anseriformes is an order (biology), order of birds that comprise about 180 living species in three families: Anhimidae (the 3 screamers), Anseranatidae (the magpie goose), and An ...

geese
, while the numbers allowed for their neighbours would probably be different. On some commons (such as the
New Forest The New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture Pasture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was origi ...
and adjoining commons), the rights are not limited by numbers, and instead a 'marking fee' is paid each year for each animal 'turned out'. However, if excessive use was made of the common, for example, in overgrazing, a common would be 'stinted'; that is, a limit would be put on the number of animals each commoner was allowed to graze. These regulations were responsive to demographic and economic pressure. Thus, rather than let a common become degraded, access was restricted even further.


Systems

Ranchers and range science researchers have developed grazing systems to improve sustainable forage production for livestock. These can be contrasted with
intensive animal farming In grammar, an intensive word form is one which denotes stronger, more forceful, or more concentrated action relative to the root on which the intensive is built. Intensives are usually lexical formations, but there may be a regular process for form ...
on feedlots.


Continuous

With continuous grazing, livestock is allowed access to the same grazing area throughout the year.


Seasonal

Seasonal grazing incorporates "grazing animals on a particular area for only part of the year". This allows the land that is not being grazed to rest and allow for new forage to grow."Grazing Systems". Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. Retrieved 1 Dec 2008


Rotational

Rotational grazing "involves dividing the range into several pastures and then grazing each in sequence throughout the grazing period". Utilizing rotational grazing can improve livestock distribution while incorporating rest period for new forage.


Ley farming

In ley farming, pastures are not permanently planted, but alternated between
fodder Fodder (), also called provender (), is any agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise ...

fodder
crops and arable crops.


Rest rotation

Rest rotation grazing "divides the range into at least four pastures. One pasture remains rested throughout the year and grazing is rotated amongst the residual pastures." This grazing system can be especially beneficial when using sensitive grass that requires time for rest and regrowth.


Deferred rotation

Deferred rotation "involves at least two pastures with one not grazed until after seed-set". By using deferred rotation, grasses can achieve maximum growth during the period when no grazing occurs.


Patch-burn

Patch-burn grazing burns a third of a pasture each year, no matter the size of the pasture. This burned patch attracts grazers (cattle or
bison Bison are large, even-toed ungulates in the genus ''Bison'' within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant taxon, extant and six extinction, extinct species are recognised. Of the six extinct species, five became extinct in the Quaternary extinction ...

bison
) that graze the area heavily because of the fresh grasses that grow as a result. The other patches receive little to no grazing. During the next two years the next two patches are burned consecutively, then the cycle begins anew. In this way, patches receive two years of rest and recovery from the heavy grazing. This technique results in a diversity of habitats that different prairie plants and birds can utilize—mimicking the effects of the pre-historical relationship between bison and fire, whereby bison heavily graze one area and other areas have opportunity to rest. The in northeastern Oklahoma has been patch-burn grazed with bison herds for over ten years. These efforts have effectively restored the bison–fire relationship on a large landscape scale of . In the grazed
heathland A heath () is a shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community A plant community is a collection or Association (ecology), association of plant species within a designated geographical unit, which forms a relativ ...
of
Devon Devon (, archaically known as Devonshire) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Ch ...

Devon
, the periodic burning is known as swailing.


Riparian area management

Riparian area grazing is intended to improve wildlife and their habitats. It uses fencing to keep livestock off ranges near streams or water areas until after wildlife or waterfowl periods, or to limit the amount of grazing to a short period of time.


Conservation grazing

Conservation grazing Conservation grazing or targeted grazing is the use of semi- feral or domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and ...
is the use of grazing animals to help improve the biodiversity of a site. Due to their hardy nature,
rare Rare may refer to: * Rare, a particular Doneness, temperature of meat * Something infrequent or scarce, see Scarcity :* Rare species, a conservation category in biology designating the scarcity of an organism and implying a threat to its viability ...
and native breeds are often used in conservation grazing. In some cases, to re-establish traditional
hay Hay is grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of fam ...

hay
meadows, cattle such as the
English Longhorn The Longhorn or British Longhorn is a British list of cattle breeds, breed of beef cattle characterised by long curving horns. It originated in northern England, in the counties of Lancashire, Westmorland and Yorkshire, and later spread to the E ...
and
Highland Highlands or uplands are any mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is large ...

Highland
are used to provide grazing.


Cell grazing

A form of rotational grazing using as many small paddocks as fencing allows, said to be more sustainable.


Mob grazing

Mob grazing is a system, said to be more sustainable, invented in 2002; it uses very large herds on land left
fallow Fallow is a farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in ...

fallow
longer than usual.


Environmental considerations


Ecology

A number of
ecological Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biology ...
effects derive from grazing, and these may be either positive or negative. Negative effects of grazing may include
overgrazing Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary hum ...

overgrazing
, increased
soil erosion Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that togeth ...

soil erosion
,
compaction Compaction may refer to: * Soil compaction In geotechnical engineering#REDIRECT geotechnical engineering {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ..., soil compaction is the process in which stress applied to a soil causes ...
and degradation,
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
,
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
, and adverse
water quality Water quality refers to the chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touche ...

water quality
. Sometimes grazers can have beneficial environmental effects such as improving the soil with nutrient redistribution and aerating the soil by trampling, and by controlling fire and increasing biodiversity by removing biomass, controlling shrub growth and dispersing seeds. In some habitats, appropriate levels of grazing may be effective in restoring or maintaining native grass and herb diversity in
rangeland Rangelands are grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any ...
that has been disturbed by overgrazing, lack of grazing (such as by the removal of wild grazing animals), or by other human disturbance.History distribution and challenges to bison recovery in the northern Chihuahuan desert
Rurik, L., G. Ceballos, C. Curtin, P. J. P. Gogan, J. Pacheco, and J. Truett. ''Conservation Biology'', 2007, 21(6): 1487–1494.
Conservation grazing Conservation grazing or targeted grazing is the use of semi- feral or domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and ...
is the use of grazers to manage such habitats, often to replicate the ecological effects of the wild relatives of domestic
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
, or those of other species now absent or extinct.What is Conservation Grazing?
Grazing Advice Partnership, UK, 2009.
Grazer urine and faeces "recycle nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other plant nutrients and return them to the soil".
Grazing can reduce the accumulation of litter (
organic matter Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of carbon-based compounds found within natural and engineered, terrestrial, and aquatic environments. It is matter In classical physics and general che ...
) in some seasons and areas, but can also increase it, which may help to combat
soil erosion Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that togeth ...

soil erosion
. This acts as nutrition for insects and organisms found within the soil. These organisms "aid in
carbon sequestration Carbon sequestration or carbon dioxide removal File:Tree planting closeup.jpg, Planting trees is a means of carbon dioxide removal. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR), also known as greenhouse gas removal, is a process in which carbon dioxide g ...

carbon sequestration
and water filtration". When grass is grazed, dead grass and litter are reduced which is advantageous for birds such as
waterfowl Anseriformes is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, ...
. Grazing can increase
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
. Without grazing, many of the same grasses grow, for example brome and , consequently producing a
monoculture In agriculture, monoculture is the practice of growing one crop species in a field at a time. Monoculture is widely used in intensive farming and in organic farming: both a 1,000-acre cornfield and a 10-hectare field of organic kale are monocult ...
. The ecosystems of North American
tallgrass prairie The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic component, biotic and abiotic ...
s are controlled to a large extent by nitrogen availability, which is itself controlled by interactions between fires and grazing by large herbivores. Fires in spring enhance growth of certain grasses, and herbivores preferentially graze these grasses, producing a system of checks and balances, and allowing higher plant biodiversity. In
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
heathland A heath () is a shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community A plant community is a collection or Association (ecology), association of plant species within a designated geographical unit, which forms a relativ ...
is a
cultural landscape Cultural landscape is a term used in the fields of geography, ecology, and heritage studies, to describe a symbiosis of human activity and environment. As defined by the World Heritage Site, World Heritage Committee, it is the "cultural properti ...
which requires grazing by cattle,
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...

sheep
or other grazers to be maintained.


Conservation

An author of the
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
(FAO) report ''
Livestock's Long Shadow ''Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options'' is a United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly ...
'', stated in an interview: Much grazing land has resulted from a process of clearance or drainage of other habitats such as
woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plu ...

woodland
or
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
. According to the opinion of the
Center for Biological Diversity The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit membership organization known for its work protecting endangered species An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a par ...
, extensive grazing of livestock in the arid lands of the southwestern United States has many negative impacts on the local biodiversity there. In arid climates such as the southwestern United States, livestock grazing has severely degraded riparian areas, the wetland environment adjacent to rivers or streams. The
Environmental Protection Agency A biophysical environment is a biotic Biotics describe living or once living components of a community; for example organisms, such as animals and plants. Biotic may refer to: *Life, the condition of living organisms *Biology, the study of life ...
states that agriculture has a greater impact on stream and river contamination than any other
nonpoint sourceNonpoint source, or non-point source, or NPS, is a source that does not come from a single point. * Point source pollution, Point source, contrasts with nonpoint source * Nonpoint source pollution, water pollution * Nonpoint source water pollution re ...
. Improper grazing of riparian areas can contribute to nonpoint source pollution of riparian areas. Riparian zones in arid and semiarid environments have been called
biodiversity hotspot A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Geneti ...
s. The water, higher
biomass Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position ...
, favorable microclimate and periodic flood events together produce higher biological diversity than in the surrounding uplands. In 1990, "according to the Arizona state park department, over 90% of the original riparian zones of Arizona and New Mexico are gone". A 1988 report of the Government Accountability Office estimated that 90% of the 5,300 miles of riparian habitat managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado was in unsatisfactory condition, as was 80% of Idaho's riparian zones, concluding that "poorly managed livestock grazing is the major cause of degraded riparian habitat on federal rangelands". A 2013 FAO report estimated livestock were responsible for 14.5% of Anthropogenic greenhouse gases, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Grazing is common in New Zealand; in 2004, methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture made up somewhat less than half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, of which most is attributable to
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictabl ...
. A 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency report on emissions found agriculture was responsible for 6% of total United States greenhouse gas emissions in 2006. This included rice production, enteric fermentation in domestic livestock, livestock manure management, and agricultural soil management, but omitted some things which might be attributable to agriculture.U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports
Studies comparing the methane emissions from grazing and feedlot cattle concluded that grass-fed cattle produce much more methane than grain-fed cattle. One study in the Journal of Animal Science found four times as much, and stated: "these measurements clearly document higher CH4 production for cattle receiving low-quality, high-fiber diets than for cattle fed high-grain diets".


See also

* Cattle feeding * Free range * Grazing rights


References


External links

{{Authority control Land use Livestock