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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(2)

Principles and guidelines for managing cattle grazing in the grazing lands of northern Australia: stocking rates, pasture resting, prescribed fire, paddock size and water points – a review

L. P. Hunt A E, J. G. McIvor B, A. C. Grice C and S. G. Bray D

A CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PMB 44, Winnellie, NT 0822, Australia.
B CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, EcoSciences Precinct, GPO Box 2583, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.
C CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Private Bag, PO Aitkenvale, Qld 4814, Australia.
D Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, PO Box 6014, Redhill, Qld 4701, Australia.
E Corresponding author. Email: leigh.hunt@csiro.au

The Rangeland Journal 36(2) 105-119 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ13070
Submitted: 24 June 2013  Accepted: 7 February 2014   Published: 3 April 2014

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Beef cattle grazing is the dominant land use in the extensive tropical and sub-tropical rangelands of northern Australia. Despite the considerable knowledge on land and herd management gained from both research and practical experience, the adoption of improved management is limited by an inability to predict how changes in practices and combinations of practices will affect cattle production, economic returns and resource condition. To address these issues, past Australian and international research relating to four management factors that affect productivity and resource condition was reviewed in order to identify key management principles. The four management factors considered were stocking rates, pasture resting, prescribed fire, and fencing and water point development for managing grazing distribution. Four management principles for sound grazing management in northern Australia were formulated as follows: (1) manage stocking rates to meet goals for livestock production and land condition; (2) rest pastures to maintain them in good condition or to restore them from poor condition to increase pasture productivity; (3) devise and apply fire regimes that enhance the condition of grazing land and livestock productivity while minimising undesirable impacts; and (4) use fencing and water points to manipulate grazing distribution. Each principle is supported by several more specific guidelines. These principles and guidelines, and the supporting research on which they are based, are presented.

Additional keywords: beef production, carrying capacity, grasslands, grazing distribution, sustainability, tropical savannas.


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