Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Vol 3, Issue 2,2005
Online ISSN: 1459-0263
Print ISSN: 1459-0255

The use of short-duration intensive sheep grazing to increase sheep utilization of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.)*


J. Bret Taylor *, Steven S. Seefeldt, Tonya M. Thelen

Recieved Date: 2005-01-03, Accepted Date: 2005-03-28


Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) is an exotic plant that invades and ultimately degrades North American rangeland ecosystems. The use of short-duration intensive grazing management strategies to manipulate sheep utilization of leafy spurge was investigated. A 0.6-hectare leafy spurge-infested (cover =75%) area was divided into six 0.1-hectare pastures. During June 2002, 2003 and 2004, 36 nonpregnant Targhee breed ewes (2 to 3 years old) grazed the pastures (6 ewes/pasture) at a rate of 480 sheep days/hectare. Three pastures were continuously grazed with ewes for eight days (8-day; moderate-density continuous). The remaining three pastures were subdivided into 0.025-hectare subdivisions, and all ewes grazed each individual subdivision for two days and were rotated among all four subdivisions over an eight-day period (2-day; high-density rotational). Before-grazing leafy spurge stem densities were similar between years (P = 0.18; 249, 207 and 213±17 stems/m² for 2002, 2003 and 2004, respectively) and grazing treatments (P = 0.69; 226 and 228±17 stems/m² for 8- and 2-day treatments, respectively). In 2004, the 2-day grazing treatment caused more (P = 0.04) utilization of leafy spurge flowering stems than did the 8-day grazing treatment (24.0 vs. 14.6±2.2 flower stems damaged/m², respectively). Regardless of treatment, 69 to 70% of the leafy spurge plants were utilized but 57 to 61% of the total vegetative biomass remained standing at the end of the grazing periods. Within the context of this experiment, sheep managed in short-duration intensive grazing systems substantially grazed the standing leafy spurge. As grazing density increased and duration decreased, ewes utilized more leafy spurge-flowering stems. The 2-d rotational high-density sheep grazing strategy may provide greater long-term effectiveness in controlling leafy spurge infestations.


Euphorbia esula L., flower, grazing, high-density, leafy spurge, rangeland, sagebrush steppe, sheep, short-duration, stem

Journal: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
Year: 2005
Volume: 3
Issue: 2
Category: Environment
Pages: 323-326

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