Theme 3: Livestock--Oral Sessions

Description

With increasing pressure on grazing lands throughout the world, there is a growing need to balance sustainable management of livestock to meet food production and environmental impacts. Grazing management practices that incorporate periods of planned rest between grazing events (RG) may achieve both ecological and production goals simultaneously. We conducted a systematic review of global literature that compared ecological and production outcomes of RG systems with either continuously grazed (CG) or ungrazed (UG) areas. In addition, we evaluated the extent to which ecological and livestock production outcomes have been assessed simultaneously in these studies and identified future research needs. A large proportion of the literature reported no difference (neutral response) between the different management systems. However, where differences did occur, the response of biodiversity, land condition and livestock production metrics was more often positive under RG than CG. When RG was compared to UG areas, differences were predominantly positive for plant biodiversity metrics, but negative for invertebrate biodiversity, ground cover and plant biomass. Only a small proportion of studies considered the effect of RG on both ecological and production outcomes simultaneously. An understanding of both ecological and production trade-offs associated with different grazing management strategies is essential to make informed decisions about best-management practices for joint production and ecological outcomes across the world’s grazing lands.

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A Systematic Review of Ecological and Production Outcomes under Rest-Grazing Systems

With increasing pressure on grazing lands throughout the world, there is a growing need to balance sustainable management of livestock to meet food production and environmental impacts. Grazing management practices that incorporate periods of planned rest between grazing events (RG) may achieve both ecological and production goals simultaneously. We conducted a systematic review of global literature that compared ecological and production outcomes of RG systems with either continuously grazed (CG) or ungrazed (UG) areas. In addition, we evaluated the extent to which ecological and livestock production outcomes have been assessed simultaneously in these studies and identified future research needs. A large proportion of the literature reported no difference (neutral response) between the different management systems. However, where differences did occur, the response of biodiversity, land condition and livestock production metrics was more often positive under RG than CG. When RG was compared to UG areas, differences were predominantly positive for plant biodiversity metrics, but negative for invertebrate biodiversity, ground cover and plant biomass. Only a small proportion of studies considered the effect of RG on both ecological and production outcomes simultaneously. An understanding of both ecological and production trade-offs associated with different grazing management strategies is essential to make informed decisions about best-management practices for joint production and ecological outcomes across the world’s grazing lands.