Submitted to: American Society of Animal Science Southern Section Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2002
Publication Date: February 3, 2003
Citation: AIKEN, G.E., LOOPER, M.L. 2003. ANIMAL AND PLANT RESPONSES TO STOCKING. AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANIMAL SCIENCE SOUTHERN SECTION MEETING. 81(SUPPL. 2):20. Technical Abstract: Stocking rates that livestock producers choose to graze pastures will be a critical factor in meeting their economic goals and sustaining pasture productivity. This is primarily because stocking rate will determine the efficiency of production, production per unit land area, and depending on the grazing intensity imposed, increase the need for inputs of fertilizer and weed control. Therefore, both the biologic and economic implications of increasing or decreasing stocking rates must be understood to maintain stability and profit potential of a forage system. Stocking rate experiments conducted over the past forty years have typically reported linear declines in average daily weight gain as stocking rate increased. This linear trend in average daily gain with increases in stocking rate has been directly related to parallel declines in forage mass, but factors other than forage quantity can also affect intake of digestible dry matter. As canopies are grazed to lower heights, changes in forage quality, bulk density, and morphology can occur to grasses that alter selective grazing and dry matter intake by grazing livestock. Heavy grazing intensities can also shift the botanical composition over a period of time from desirable to less desirable forage species. It is possible that actual trends in average daily gain over a range of stocking rates could be slightly non- linear, but the precision of most grazing experiments is too low to allow detection.