Grazing—A Case of Sustained Yield
The grasses growing on this sagebrush-covered landscape provide food for cattle and many
species of wildlife. Although much of this region was over-grazed historically, today's grazing practices
reflect years of study and management aimed at maintaining a renewable resource. A sustained yeild of
nutritious forage cane be maintained with proper grazing rotation and careful attention to the numbers
of livestock and wildlilfe species that each grazing unit can accommodate.
Grasses possess the remarkable ability to regenerate from nodes along the stem or from their
root systems which in some species can extend ten feet below the surface. They grow from their bases,
and when grazed to near ground level, the leaves grow out again. Some bunch grasses produce
new shoots called "tillers" which increase the number of stems per plant. In some species, as many as
100 new stems can grow from a single parent plant, giving it a bunchy appearance. Without grazing or
fire, some species of bunchgrass, especially crested wheatgrass, may become matted with several years'
accumulation of old vegetative material which can stifle new growth.
A find crop of crested wheatgrass waiting to be grazed.
Rangeland Ready for a Rest
With grazing nearly complete, the grass has been nibbled to within a few
inches of the ground.
Six to Ten Months Later
Top growth has returned and crested wheatgrass is rebuilding its root
carbohydrate reserves. With precipitation and adequate periodic rest from
grazing, ranch managers may be permitted to run cattle year after year.