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Increasing Shrub Use by Livestock in a World with Less Grass

Estell, R. E., Havstad, K. M., Cibils, A. F., Fredrickson, E. L., Anderson, D. M., Schrader, T. S., James, D. K.
Rangeland ecology & management 2012 v.65 no.6 pp. 553
forage, grasses, grasslands, intensive farming, land cover, land use change, livestock, livestock feeds, rangelands, ruminants, rural communities, shrubs, woody plants
Much of the world's rangelands are dominated by woody species. Competing land uses and continued encroachment of woody species into non-woody dominated rangelands have reduced grasslands in many parts of the world. Land use conversions to fuel and feed global populations, especially for increasing numbers of middle class people seeking broader, meat-based diets, will certainly continue. Halting and/or reversing further encroachment of woody species into grasslands is slow, expensive, and in some cases, not possible. Yet, global livestock numbers continue to increase to meet the growing demand for red meat and other livestock products. How do we reconcile a world with less grass and the concurrent increased demand for forages to feed livestock, either in extensive rangeland production systems or intensive confined feeding systems? Strategies and mechanisms are needed to safely enhance shrub use by ruminants in order to capitalize on a presently underutilized forage resource. Such strategies could provide important means for rural communities to adapt to changing land cover and climate.