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University of KwaZulu-Natal (1999)

Impact of stocking rate, livestock type and livestock movement on sustainable utilisation of sourveld.

Kirkman, Kevin Peter.

Titre : Impact of stocking rate, livestock type and livestock movement on sustainable utilisation of sourveld.

Auteur : Kirkman, Kevin Peter.

Université de soutenance : University of KwaZulu-Natal

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1999

Résumé partiel
Data collected between 1992/93 and 1996/97 from two long-term grazing trials were used to investigate the interaction between grazing animals and veld grass. In the first trial, the impacts of stocking rate and time of stocking in spring on both livestock performance and veld vigour (defined as the ability of a grass plant to regrow after defoliation) and condition were investigated. In the second trial comparisons were made, firstly between the impacts of sheep and cattle grazing, and secondly between various types and frequencies of rest, on veld vigour and condition. Treatments applied in the first trial comprised four stocking rates, namely 7, 10, 13 and 16 sheep ha¯¹ for the duration of the grazing season, and two times of stocking, namely as early as possible after spring burning and three weeks later. Sheep grazed each treatment continuously throughout the growing season. Treatments were applied to alternate blocks in a two-year cycle with each block resting for a year within a grazing cycle. Animal performance (mass gains over the season) was measured to quantify livestock performance. Herbage availability was measured on a species basis at intervals throughout each season using a dry-weight-rank procedure to determine grazing patterns. Residual effects of the grazing treatments on vigour were determined by measuring herbage regrowth on a species basis during the rest season which followed a season of grazing and comparing these measures to a previously ungrazed control treatment. Effects of the grazing treatment on proportional species composition were determined using a nearest plant point technique. Stocking rate had a non-linear effect on livestock performance, with livestock performance on the lightest stocking rate being less than on the two intermediate stocking rates. The mass gains on the heaviest stocking rate were generally the smallest. Delaying the time of stocking in spring resulted in smaller mass gains during the resultant shorter season. The sheep from both the early and late time of stocking groups had similar mean masses at the end of the season. The advantage of stocking early can thus be attributed more to saving the cost of alternative feed for the interim period than to additional mass gains due to stocking early.

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