Cattle Diets in the Blue Mountains of Oregon II. Forests

Jerry L. Holechek, Martin Vavra, Jon Skovlin, William C. Krueger
1982 Journal of range management  
Esophagerlly flstulated cows were used on forested range in northeastern Oregon to collect diet samples which were then analyzed by the microhlstological technique. Grasses, forbs, and shrubs averaged 61,16,and 23% of the diet, respectively. Composition of diets differed among years and with seasonal advance. Idaho fescue and elk sedge were the most important forage species consumed. Forbs were used heavily in the early part of the grazing season before maturation. Browse comprised as much as
more » ... prised as much as 47% of the diet when green grass was unavailable. Cattle were opportunistic grazers and did not limit their selection to grass species. On forested ranges cattle diets varied among grazing periods within each year as well as among years. Knowledge of dietary habits of livestock and game animals is valuable to the range manager in determining if competition exists among different range animals and in balancing livestock and game numbers with available forage. Also, a knowledge of species consumed tells a manager what the key species are and helps explain changes in diet quality and animal performance (Holechek et al. 1981) . At present information concerning cattle diets on forested range in eastern Oregon is limited to utilization studies reported by Pickford and Reid (1948) , Harris (1954), Miller and Krueger (1976), and Skovlin et al. (1976). Pickford and Harris (1948), Harris (1954), and Skovlin et al. (1976) conducted their research at the Starkey Experimental Range and Forest in northeastern Oregon. Results from all three studies showed that bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicufum), Idaho fescue (Festuca iduhoensis). prairie junegrass (Koeleriu cristata), elk sedge (Carex geyeri), Sandberg bluegrass (Pea sandbergii). and pinegrass (Calumugrostis rubescens) were the primary forage species considering availability and utilization. Pickford and Reid (1948) reported that grass was the primary forage class consumed by cattle but forbs were readily utilized in June and early July. Shrubs, particularly common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), also received heavy use during some periods although shrubs comprised a small amount of the available forage. Harris ( 1954) observed that over a 9-year period bluebunch wheatgrass was the forage species most heavily used by cattle followed by prairie junegrass, Idaho fescue, elk sedge, and pinegrass. Skovlin et al. (1976) also found that bluebunch wheatgrass was an important forage species. Elk sedge and pinegrass, however, contributed the most forage. In all three of the previously discussed investigations, Sandberg bluegrass (Poa sandbergii) was one of the most common forage species present but utilization
doi:10.2307/3898400 fatcat:j3wavpvzt5fdroawlhy52jdhyi