Sheep and Cattle Grazing Complementarity Project

2004 Annual Report for FW02-036

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2002: $5,055.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:

Sheep and Cattle Grazing Complementarity Project


The project team has begun monitoring the project area to assess baseline range conditions. The plots, established with the assistance of a Montana State University range science research associate, will allow for the monitoring process to assess long-term change in range condition.

Four plots were established and staked and their position recorded using Global Positioning System. Plot locations were based on the level of leafy spurge infestation in the area. By establishing plots in these locations, the project team can accurately judge the level of weed grazing by the sheep.

Even though the fencing was not expected to be completed until fall 2004, the hope was to graze sheep briefly on the project area and continue to collect data. Cattle grazing in the area was continued as in the past.

The study will assess the effects on range condition of adding sheep on rangeland grazed exclusively by cattle for the last 50 years. Current grazing practices have led to an increase in herbs and shrubs, reducing the grass component of the rangeland.

The second portion of the study seeks to investigate the use of sheep for leafy spurge control on small, isolated infestations within the pasture boundary.

Given the long-term nature of the project, meaningful results are not likely to be available until at least fall 2006. That will provide for the collection of two years of data on the project area.

The project has been granted an extension through 2004 so the fencing can be built and meaningful data collected.

Outreach activities will include reports in local newspapers, extension newsletters and field tours. The hope is to turn the project into a rangeland classroom where land managers can see firsthand the effects of sheep production on range condition.