Continuous grazing systems (CGS) are still widely used for managing cattle herds in the south-western Alps. Recently, Pastoral Plans have been used as a policy tool to improve grazing management. Rotational grazing systems (RGS) with large paddocks (i.e. ~100 ha on average) and stocking rate adjustments based on recommended levels calculated from vegetation surveys have been implemented through Pastoral Plans to improve the uniformity of grazing. A case study was conducted to compare grazing distribution patterns of beef cows during the summer under CGS and RGS on sub-alpine and alpine pastures within Val Troncea Natural Park in the south-western Alps of Italy. Cows were tracked with global positioning system collars at 15-min intervals under both CGS and RGS. Cattle distribution patterns were aggregated in both grazing systems, but in the RGS concentration of grazing was less clustered and the selection of vegetation communities was more homogeneous than in CGS. Under CGS, cows were attracted (P < 0.05) to salt placements and areas with high forage pastoral values, and they avoided (P < 0.05) steep slopes. In contrast, cows under RGS were not influenced by (P > 0.05) high pastoral value, and they avoided areas farther from water (P < 0.05). Similar to CGS, cows under RGS were attracted (P < 0.05) to salt and avoided (P < 0.05) steep slopes. In the RGS, cows used steeper slopes and areas farther from salt and water in the second half of the grazing period within a paddock compared with the first half, which likely explains the improvement in uniformity of grazing with RGS. Our findings indicate that Pastoral Plans that combine appropriate stocking levels and RGS are valid policy and management tools that have the potential to improve grazing distribution on rough sub-alpine and alpine pastures in the south-western Alps.

Implementation of a rotational grazing system with large paddocks changes the distribution of grazing cattle in the south-western Italian Alps

PROBO, MASSIMILIANO;LONATI, MICHELE;PITTARELLO, MARCO;GARBARINO, MATTEO;GORLIER, Alessandra;LOMBARDI, Giampiero
2014

Abstract

Continuous grazing systems (CGS) are still widely used for managing cattle herds in the south-western Alps. Recently, Pastoral Plans have been used as a policy tool to improve grazing management. Rotational grazing systems (RGS) with large paddocks (i.e. ~100 ha on average) and stocking rate adjustments based on recommended levels calculated from vegetation surveys have been implemented through Pastoral Plans to improve the uniformity of grazing. A case study was conducted to compare grazing distribution patterns of beef cows during the summer under CGS and RGS on sub-alpine and alpine pastures within Val Troncea Natural Park in the south-western Alps of Italy. Cows were tracked with global positioning system collars at 15-min intervals under both CGS and RGS. Cattle distribution patterns were aggregated in both grazing systems, but in the RGS concentration of grazing was less clustered and the selection of vegetation communities was more homogeneous than in CGS. Under CGS, cows were attracted (P < 0.05) to salt placements and areas with high forage pastoral values, and they avoided (P < 0.05) steep slopes. In contrast, cows under RGS were not influenced by (P > 0.05) high pastoral value, and they avoided areas farther from water (P < 0.05). Similar to CGS, cows under RGS were attracted (P < 0.05) to salt and avoided (P < 0.05) steep slopes. In the RGS, cows used steeper slopes and areas farther from salt and water in the second half of the grazing period within a paddock compared with the first half, which likely explains the improvement in uniformity of grazing with RGS. Our findings indicate that Pastoral Plans that combine appropriate stocking levels and RGS are valid policy and management tools that have the potential to improve grazing distribution on rough sub-alpine and alpine pastures in the south-western Alps.
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Probo M.; Lonati M.; Pittarello M.; Bailey D.W.; Garbarino M.; Gorlier A.; Lombardi G.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/149700
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