Prescribed Grazing Handbook
March 31, 2005
By Ron Daines
March/April 2005 -- A handbook designed to help livestock owners and land management entities manage prescribed grazing has gained traction with a grant from the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.
Karen Launchbaugh, a range scientist from the University of Idaho, will spearhead the long-discussed handbook.
"I attend a lot of weed workshops," said Launchbaugh, "and the next most exciting new tool being discussed is sheep."
Noxious plants have exploded exponentially across fragile Western landscapes over the last half century. Tools harnessed to corral the weedy rampage - chemical, mechanical, even fire - are having little impact. But prescribed grazing is gaining credibility and showing promise both for landscapes and livestock producers.
Launchbaugh, working on the handbook with John Walker, a range scientist from Texas A&M University, said prescribed grazing provides a new opportunity for current sheep producers and it is bringing new people to the industry.
"People with a pickup truck, some fencing and a few sheep or goats can get into ranching," she said.
Hudson Glimp, Ph. D., sheep specialist with the University of Nevada-Reno, said public land-management agencies are realizing the value of grazing as a management tool.
"Agency people tell me they know how to write a contract on bulldozing or grazing," said Glimp, "but they haven't a clue how to write a contract on prescribed grazing."
Launchbaugh said the handbook is intended to be easy to understand and useful to both producers and agencies. She anticipates completion in early 2006.