Ranchers maintain water sources and provide salt, mineral supplements and
supplemental feed sources when necessary. These resources benefit
the cattle as well as the wildlife in the area.
Click here to see some photos of wildlife at a rancher's drinker.
When properly managed, cattle convert the
energy stored in native grasses and vegetation into a sustainable source
of meat, leather and other valuable products for human consumption.
Grazing of livestock on indigenous rangelands is one of the oldest and
most sustainable forms of agriculture known.
By grazing, cattle stimulate plant growth
and increase annual forage yield. Through their urine and feces,
cattle recycle nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other plant nutrients
and return them to the soil.
The hoof action of cattle is advantageous
to many species of prairie plants, and is one of nature's ways of ensuring
good soil contact for seeds on desert, prairie and forest grasslands.
Cattle, through their fecal matter, feed
bacteria, fungi, protozoa, beneficial nematodes, and other microorganisms
found in the soil. These tiny organisms keep nitrogen and other soil
nutrients in a water-soluble form, allowing them to be slowly released
into the ecosystem as food.
The fecal matter of cattle supports
insects and organisms (dung beetles and earthworms for example) which aid
in carbon sequestration and water infiltration. This increases the
amount of carbon and water stored in the soil, and helps recharge
By trampling plants that have grown too
coarse and brittle to eat, cattle increase the amount of cover on the
ground, which reduces soil erosion and helps increase the amount of water
that enters the ground and aquifers.
Improvement Task Force has a website with information on their studies
related to grazing and range management. The program is comprised of
three primary areas: (1. an educational program ranging from a
one-on-one basis to a symposium approach, (2. short term research program
focused on problem solving and answering pertinent questions, (3. third
party unbiased assessment of problem areas.
For additional information ,read the "Gila
National Forest Hearing History of Livestock Grazing Testimony" from NMSU professor Dr. John Fowler to the "Public
Land Grazing Task Force" dated June 15, 2000.
Ranch families working viable ranches that
sustain ecosystem services and contribute to the social fabric and local
economies are critical to a West that works, says Dr. Richard Knight in
his article "Ranchers
as a Keystone Species in a West that Works".
Despite these benefits, many environmental
groups are opposed to grazing and