Cattle Grazing

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Cattle Grazing in Texas

Cattle Grazing in Texas


Grazing refers to the consumption of grasses and other plant materials by herbivores and some omnivores. Wild or domestic grazing animals (e.g., cattle, sheep, deer, horses) consume portions of low-lying plants, habitually only eating part of the plant and leaving the rest behind (most importantly, the root) to allow for further growth. Sometimes numerous species will graze on the same plants, with smaller animals eating the tender parts exposed after larger animals have consumed the tougher, woodier parts. For instance, the carped subfamily (or goat-antelope family) includes grazers (e.g., sheep, musk-oxen), browsers (e.g., goats), and animals that both graze and browse (e.g., ibexes). Giraffes have evolved to browse on the higher-level foliage that other browsers cannot reach. In the agriculture, domestic grazing animals are traditionally food sources themselves and/or produce other food byproducts (e.g., milk) (Wilkinson, 1992).

Most domestic livestock are, and historically have been, grazers, and grazing has been an opportunity for people since the earliest days of man to make indirect food use of grasses and other vegetative resources that are of limited direct use. At the same time, because cattle and sheep were feeding on grasses, they were not competing for food with their human ranchers. Though we do not think much about the fact that we do not raise carnivorous species for food, one reason early man made that choice was because of the inefficiencies involved. (The principal exception is the pig, which is omnivorous; the pig can eat meat, but does not require it as long as it obtains protein from some source. Omnivorous has an efficiency appeal all its own, as a pig can be fed unusable or undesirable scraps or leftovers, much as the family dog would be. The trade-off is that, unlike the grazing species, it does not provide milk for its owners.) Furthermore, through a lucky ecological quirk, most land that is suitable for grazing is not suitable for growing crops, and vice versa. It is easy in the 21st century to lose sight of how well-adapted farming and animal husbandry are to the natural dispositions of the environment (Samson and Fritz, 1994).

This paper discusses the concept of cattle grazing in Texas and techniques that are used in the different regions of Texas such as Central Texas, South Texas and West Texas. It also emphasizes on the cattle grazing management of the different areas in Texas.


Cattle Grazing Techniques

These techniques are used in Texas for cattle grazing in the West, East and central Texas. When livestock graze, the grazing can be controlled (with the farmer regulating what is available to the animals, through one means or another) or continuous (where the animals have free access to whatever is available to forage). The growth of the cattle ranching industry and its continuous grazing in the 19th century highlighted the problems of grazing large numbers of livestock without any method or system to prevent overgrazing, in which grasses are eaten too quickly to grow back (which could lead ...
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