TAG grazing Cattle as a Tool for Range Management: Targeting Cheatgrass and False Annual Wheatgrass to see the impacts of restoring native species

Final report for FW23-426

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G343-23-W9982
Grant Recipient: Carter Livestock
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
RC Carter
Carter Livestock
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Project Information


-A recent 40 year BLM study, shows continued degradation of our range land in the challenging arid west ecosystem, loss of top soil and native grass species. How can we reverse the trend and be financially and socially profitable? Can we suppress cheat grass and promote native grasses with animal management. Can we increase stocking densities with TAG management. What are the stocking densities in this setting with TAG grazing management

Our badlands plant community is dominated by less desirable grass communities, having suppressed native species through competition. Though seasonally palatable in the spring months, native grasses provide a more stable and consistent nutrient source for cattle and wildlife year round.

With funding from Western SARE, we will evaluate the merits of Targeted Adaptive Grazing, in shifting the species composition in a range setting. We will establish stocking densities and and measure Animal Unit Days per acre with this grazing strategy.We will compare species composition, forage biomass production, and soil biological populations within our treatments.

This research will advance range renovation and regeneration in the west. We also expect to gain fundamental insights regarding Targeted Adaptive Grazing on non irrigated arid western rangeland. Given that this technique is relatively novel in Wyoming, there is a need for more context-specific research to use this tool effectively.

To extend our findings, we will host a field day with Farmers Footprint, Bionutrient.org and in conjunction with the University of Wyoming Ag Extension. Share with multiple news outlets across the US. Findings will be posted in our news letter and on digital outlets. We have a sizable social following of 17,ooo, with which we will share. We will also encage in podcast discussions  

Project Objectives:

Implementing Targeted Adaptive Grazing of Cattle to target Cheatgrass and False Annual Wheatgrass communities to monitor the impacts on range, in an effort to better understand those affects on strengthening biology and restoring native grass species.  Also research stocking densities on arid mountain west range under TAG grazing management.



May 1.           

May 1 2023 soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter
May 15 2023 soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter
June 1 2023   soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter
June 15 2023 soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter
July 1 2023 soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter
July 15 2023 soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter

June 15 2023

Soil samples pre grazing, pictures, video, transect

Forage Biomass, Nutrient density,  seed counts of treatments and controls for June 1 and June 15 sites

Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter

July 15 2023

Forage Biomass, Nutrient density,  seed counts of treatments and controls for June 1 and June 15 sites Ryan White, Caitlyn Youngquist, R.C. and Annia Carter


Grazing management and mapping on google earth, AUD calculation R.C. and Annia Carter


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Annia Carter - Producer
  • RC Carter - Producer
  • Ryan White
  • Caitlyn Youngquist - Technical Advisor (Researcher)


Materials and methods:


The project site is our 6000 acre BLM permit 13miles west of Ten Sleep Wyoming on Hwy 16. The soil is predominately Saline Upland in the Big Horn Basin precipitation zone 5-9.

After reading multiple studies on the affects of grazing cheatgrass in the spring and fall, we preformed a short term trial of the proposal the spring of 2022, in conjunction with our BLM and University of Wyoming Extension Agent . We TAG grazed 800 cattle on 1000 of the described acres.  This trial was focused on educating ourselves and adapting to the management to the operational challenges of intensively grazing such a large herd in an open range setting where water sources were limited.  It was quite a project that took an exceptional amount of time, manpower, horses, dogs, electric fence, water lines, and creativity. Our data gathering was sufficient for the 1st year goals. 

This spring we will expand our management and focus more on data collection by hiring Snaplands, professionals in this field of research. We will collect the following data at predetermined sites that represent the majority of the topography grazed both pre and post treatment, and season specific. Forage Biomass, nutrient density, seed counts; soil organic, minerals, and biology. We will take multiple samples per location to establish baselines and change over time. Grazing maps will be created daily to show Animal Unit Days per acre. Upon completion, the data will be packaged for evaluation by the BLM, University of Wyoming and others to evaluate

Our goal in 2023 is to manage 1300 animals in a TAG setting for an extended timeframe. We will focus much closer on the data collection and methods to be able to replicate track and share.


Research results and discussion:

Our study, conducted during the spring of 2023, involved intensive grazing of 1300 cattle on a 6000-acre arid rangeland. To advance our understanding and management of this ecosystem, we engaged the expertise of rangeland specialists from SnapLands LLC. This collaboration allowed us to collect comprehensive data and derive valuable insights into the ecological health of our rangeland. Here are the key findings and outcomes of our study:

  1. Random Stratified Sampling: We implemented random stratified sampling, using GPS-guided field sampling aligned with satellite imagery. This approach ensured that our data collection was systematic and representative, providing a reliable basis for analysis.

  2. Soil Health Assessment: Our study emphasized the assessment of soil health indices, a critical component in understanding overall rangeland health. We found that evaluating soil health helped validate the ecological state of the rangeland, assess the accuracy of remote sensing data, and inform grazing management decisions. Healthy soil was identified as a fundamental element for supporting plant growth and the overall health of the ecosystem.

  3. Timelapse Imagery and Analysis: The utilization of timelapse imagery and Land EKG DataStore analysis was instrumental in monitoring the rangeland's health over time. This data allowed us to track changes in vegetation cover, soil conditions, and various ecological indicators. Additionally, our adherence to the standards set by BLM, Forest Service, and NRCS ensured that our data collection met established guidelines.

  4. Comprehensive Baseline: By focusing on various ecological indicators, including soil cover (bare soil, litter, basal cover, moss, lichen, rock), forage biomass (pound per acre), grazing utilization, plant functional groups, species richness, vegetation height, plant vigor, and key rangeland plant species based on Ecological Site Descriptions (ESD), we established an extensive baseline of the rangeland's ecological health.

In conclusion, our study findings demonstrate that the integration of advanced methods and technology, along with expert consultation from SnapLands LLC, has provided us with a robust and data-driven understanding of how grazing management practices impact our rangeland. This knowledge empowers us to make informed decisions that enhance the ecological health and sustainability of our rangeland while aligning with regulatory standards and best practices in rangeland management.

Snaplands7 Snaplands6 Snaplands5 Snaplands4 Snaplands3 Snaplands2 snaplands1

Participation Summary
1 Producers participating in research

Research Outcomes

Recommendations for sustainable agricultural production and future research:

Based on our research activities and findings, we would like to offer the following recommendations, which are essential for achieving operational success in high-intensity grazing on rangeland in the Western U.S. Our project has already contributed to agricultural sustainability, and these recommendations will further enhance its impact:

  1. Thorough Planning: We emphasize the significance of meticulous planning for such projects. This planning should address various aspects, including paddock design, electric wire gate location, water source locations, and effective ways to supply paddocks. Herd move timing is also crucial. When operating on public lands, this planning process is intensified due to the time preference and approval required from cultural and hydrologic administrative entities. We recommend initiating these planning efforts 1-2 years in advance of implementation to ensure a smooth and sustainable transition.

  2. Stocking Density: Based on our observations, the combination of well-designed paddocks and favorable rainfall in the spring allowed us to achieve a stocking density of 17 animals per acre per day. Careful consideration of paddock design and local weather conditions is crucial to optimizing stocking density.

  3. Gate Maintenance: We recommend extensively flagging wire gates to limit recreational gate failure. This ensures that gates remain functional and the integrity of the grazing system is maintained.

  4. Daily Perimeter Fence Inspection: It is imperative to have someone onsite to inspect the perimeter fence daily, both in the morning and evening. This proactive approach helps detect and address potential issues promptly, ensuring the security of the grazing area.

  5. Water Management: Water management is essential for successful grazing operations. When transferring water over a distance (e.g., 3/4 mile) in above-ground poly pipes, we recommend aggregating it in a large tank. This not only facilitates the efficient distribution of water to paddocks but also allows for cooling, which is especially important in arid environments.

  6. Optimal Pumping Times: To conserve energy and avoid solar water heating, we suggest pumping water during the night when environmental temperatures are lower.

  7. Herd Movement Signs: Cattle walking along the perimeter fence can serve as a sign that they are ready to move to the next paddock. This knowledge can aid in managing herd movement effectively and reducing pressure on the current paddock.

  8. Prepared Subsequent Paddock: Always have the subsequent paddock prepared in advance. This proactive approach helps mitigate pressure on the current paddock and ensures a smooth transition for the herd.

  9. Adaptation to Rain Events: Be prepared for rain events, as they can significantly impact grazing. Our observations indicate that rain events can cut grazing time in each paddock in half due to dirty feed. Strategies to manage these events should be incorporated into the plan.

  10. Our research demonstrated a significant improvement in grass harvesting compared to the traditional management approach under the Taylor Grazing Act. By using cattle as a grass harvesting tool, we were able to achieve an eight-fold increase in grass utilization. This substantial gain in efficiency has several implications for agricultural sustainability in the Western U.S.

Our project has already demonstrated success by grazing 6000 arid acres and achieving sufficient animal impact to initiate ecological succession. However, we recognize that changes in ecology take time to manifest fully. As a result, we recommend that future studies continue to monitor the extent of native ecological change over an extended period to better understand the long-term effects of high-intensity grazing on rangeland sustainability in the Western U.S. This will contribute to our understanding of sustainable agricultural production in arid environments and support future sustainability efforts.

1 Grant received that built upon this project

Education and Outreach

7 Consultations
2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Journal articles
2 On-farm demonstrations
3 Tours
1 Webinars / talks / presentations
6 Workshop field days
4 Other educational activities: Podcasts and social media sharing of content

Participation Summary:

3 Farmers participated
35 Ag professionals participated
Education and outreach methods and analyses:

Education and Outreach Methods and Achievements:

Our project prioritized effective education and outreach methods, aligning them with specific objectives. Our activities unfolded in line with the project timeline, and we are pleased to report the following achievements:

  1. Podcasts and Social Media Content: We employed podcasts and social media as primary platforms for our education and outreach efforts. Through regular podcast episodes and the sharing of informative content on our social media channels, we aimed to engage our audience in real-time discussions and knowledge sharing.

  2. Daily Project Documentation: We documented our 2023 project on a daily basis, capturing both video and audio content. This approach allowed us to provide an in-depth look at our activities and findings throughout the project's duration.

  3. Instagram Growth: Our outreach on Instagram yielded substantial growth. Our profile reach expanded from 17K to 66K, reflecting the effectiveness of our content and the resonance of our educational efforts with our audience.

  4. On-Site Hosting and Documentary: In June, we hosted an on-site event, which provided an opportunity for hands-on engagement. Moreover, our project was featured in a documentary produced by The Origin Series, reaching a broader audience and promoting our educational objectives.

  5. Podcast Sharing: We shared our findings and experiences on multiple podcast platforms, including the popular "Mike Drop #130." These appearances allowed us to disseminate our project insights and engage with new and diverse audiences.

  6. Hatch Event Speaking Engagement: In September, we spoke at a Hatch event dedicated to the subject of our research. Our participation in this event allowed us to contribute our expertise and engage with industry professionals and stakeholders.

Project Timeline Activities:

Our timelines are actively documented on our Instagram and actively ongoing

Our education and outreach activities have been inextricably linked to our educational objectives, enabling us to engage, inform, and inspire a wide range of audiences. Our efforts will continue to evolve as we progress further, maintaining our commitment to sharing knowledge and fostering dialogue around our project's key findings and implications.

Education and outreach results:

Educational and Outreach Results Achieved:

In our project, we have undertaken a multi-faceted approach to education and outreach, which has yielded significant results aligned with our objectives. These findings encompass both qualitative and quantitative insights, demonstrating the effectiveness of our methods:

  1. Regenerative Agriculture and Ethical Food Production: Through our various outreach channels, we have observed a growing public interest in regenerative agriculture and ethical food production. Our content and engagement efforts have resonated with the wider public, revealing a strong desire for sustainable, ethically-produced food.

  2. Interest in High-Intensity Grazing Management: A notable outcome of our outreach efforts is the substantial interest expressed by beef producers. Our project has served as a valuable resource for producers seeking knowledge in high-intensity grazing management. The engagement of this target audience indicates a clear demand for information in this field.

  3. Effective Communication Channels: Our project has underscored the effectiveness of podcasts, social media, on-site hosting, and event participation in disseminating information. These platforms have facilitated meaningful dialogue, knowledge exchange, and interaction with various audiences.

  4. Engagement of Underserved Communities: While our findings highlight the general public's interest in regenerative agriculture, we have also seen successful engagement with underserved communities. These communities have shown an eagerness to learn about sustainable agricultural practices, emphasizing the importance of inclusive education.

  5. Educational Impact on Students: Our outreach efforts have not only resonated with the general public but have also reached students. We have observed a growing interest in sustainable agriculture among students, reflecting the long-term educational impact of our project.

Our educational and outreach objectives have been met with enthusiasm and resonance from diverse audiences. We have effectively communicated the benefits of regenerative agriculture and ethical food production, serving as a valuable resource for beef producers seeking expertise in high-intensity grazing management. Our ability to engage underserved communities and students underscores our commitment to inclusive education. These findings validate the impact of our outreach methods and inform our continued efforts to disseminate knowledge and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

3 Farmers intend/plan to change their practice(s)

Education and Outreach Outcomes

Recommendations for education and outreach:

Recommendations from Education and Outreach Activities:

  1. Diversify Content Formats: Continue to use a variety of content formats, including podcasts, videos, written articles, and live events. Different audiences prefer different formats, so diversification broadens your reach and impact.

  2. Interactive Engagement: Foster more interactive engagement with your audience. Consider live Q&A sessions, polls, and surveys to involve your audience in discussions and gather their insights.

  3. Collaborative Partnerships: Collaborate with experts, organizations, and influencers in the field of regenerative agriculture. Partnering with others can expand your reach and bring a fresh perspective to your educational efforts.

  4. Localized Information: Tailor your content to address specific challenges and opportunities in different regions of the arid West. Recognize that sustainable practices may vary from one location to another.

  5. Education for Young Farmers: Place special emphasis on educating and mentoring the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Share your experiences and knowledge with young individuals interested in pursuing regenerative agriculture.

Impact on Stakeholders' Understanding of Agricultural Sustainability:

  1. Increased Awareness: Your project has significantly increased awareness among stakeholders about the benefits of intensive grazing and regenerative agriculture. Stakeholders now have a clearer understanding of the positive impact these practices can have on the environment and food production.

  2. Economic Viability: Your outreach has also emphasized the economic viability of sustainable agricultural practices. Stakeholders now have a better grasp of how such practices can lead to long-term economic sustainability.

  3. Environmental Responsibility: Your efforts have underscored the importance of ethical and environmentally responsible food production. Stakeholders are now more cognizant of the role they can play in promoting sustainable and ethical food systems.

  4. Knowledge Transfer: You've successfully transferred your knowledge and expertise to stakeholders, equipping them with the tools and insights needed to make informed decisions about their farming and ranching practices.

  5. Network Building: Your project has facilitated the building of a supportive and knowledgeable network of stakeholders. They can now engage in meaningful conversations, share experiences, and collaborate on sustainable practices.

Your education and outreach activities have not only educated stakeholders but have also empowered them with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions regarding agricultural sustainability. By following the recommendations mentioned earlier, you can further expand your reach and deepen the understanding of agricultural sustainability among your audience. Your efforts have a lasting impact on promoting ethical and environmentally responsible agriculture in the arid West.


17 Producers reported gaining knowledge, attitude, skills and/or awareness as a result of the project
Non-producer stakeholders reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of project outreach
89 General public
9 Students
13 Ag Service Providers
Key changes:
  • the affects of low intensity high time duration grazing on rangeland

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.