Date of this Version
There is continued need for a better understanding of range vegetation and its use by range animals. Range preservation and improvement in the midwest are largely matters of wise use and proper management of our natural grasslands. A more comprehensive understanding of the range itself is needed--its forage, soil, and water supply, and factors influencing a proper distribution of livestock. The degree of utilization of forage that will result in the maintenance of excellent or good range condition and the improvement of a range in fair condition should be ascertained. Soil conservation on range lands is accomplished primarily by improvement of the vegetation. Mechanical devices, as contour furrows, structures for water spreading, etc., are means of fostering recovery and improvement of the plant cover. Permanent protection of the soil can be had only by recovery and stabilization of the vegetation. We must know the present condition of the range, what types or groupings of vegetation occur, and the significance of each type. We should know scientifically just how good the range is and how much better it may become under proper use.
The pasture selected for study is almost completely surrounded by natural grassland. It is a part of a long range of rolling hills northwest, west, and southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska, which is covered with thousands of acres of natural grassland. Many of the larger prairies and ranges are scarcely changed from their original condition. Rattlesnakes, coyotes, and various species of the original rodent population are common. The cattle are not subjected to herding or driving but remain undisturbed throughout the summer. This range has been observed over a period of many years by the senior author, and intensive studies in it have been made during five years (1946-1950).
The purpose of this study was to ascertain the amount, composition, and consumption of forage, and the grazing activities and their effects upon the composition and distribution of the vegetation.