Grazing Livestock Management in an Arid Environment

TitleGrazing Livestock Management in an Arid Environment
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsHavstad, KM, Fredrickson, EL, Huenneke, LF
EditorSchlesinger, WH
Book TitleStructure and Function of a Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem: The Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research Site
Pagination266-277
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York
Accession NumberLTER.2006-90495
KeywordsJRN, synthesis book
Abstract

The history of livestock grazing in the Jornada Basin of southern New Mexico is a relatively recent story, but one of profound implications. For four centuries this region has supported a rangeland livestock industry, initially sheep, goats, and cattle, but primarily beef cattle for the past 130 years. Throughout this brief history of a domesticated ruminant in an ecosystem without a significant presence of large hoofed mammals as part of its evolutionary development, the livestock industry has continually grappled with high degrees of temporal and spatial variation in forage production. Management of this consumptive use, whether during Spanish, Mexican, United States Territorial, United States federal, or New Mexican governments, has constantly reaffirmed the need for grazing management to be flexible and responsive to the stress of droughts. The history of anecdotal experiences has been more recently augmented by scientific investigations first initiated in 1915. This chapter outlines the general history of livestock in this region, the historical specifics of ranching in the Jornada Basin, and resulting principles of grazing management derived from nearly a century of studies on grazing by large, domesticated herbivores.

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