The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

New Research: Cattle vs. Wildlife

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 22, 2012


Hey, everyone, check this out. It’s the result of Princeton’s recent research into cattle vs. wildlife. They determined that in a properly managed habitat, the presence of equines can actually improve livestock production. While the article is geared towards food production, it presents an argument that Craig Downer and Mineral County Commissioner Jerrie Tipton have been trying to get people to recognize for years – that in appropriate management models, equines can actually improve rangelands.
Sample findings:
Cattle paired with donkeys gained 60 percent more weight than cattle left to graze only with other cows. The conclusion was that the donkeys (used in the trials as they were more tame than zebras or horses) ate the rougher tops of the grasses, leaving the lusher, more digestible portions for the cattle. Furthermore, equines tend to remove the upper dead stem grass layer making lusher grasses more available to cattle.
It seems apparent that the models studied involved animal populations that were kept within the capabilities of the resources available to support them. I would think that overgrazing would not produce the same results.
The study didn’t address the seeding benefits provided by equines but it’s definitely a start.  Here’s the report:
Hopefully this study will encourage some broader based thinking with respect to range science – a departure from the “us versus them” standoff – and prompt more research into which models produce benefits for livestock, wildlife, equids, and the public.
Thanks to Carrol Abel for the heads up on this report.
“:O) Willis


8 Responses to “New Research: Cattle vs. Wildlife”

  1. Seems to me also that if zebra/wild horses are eating dried and brittle roughage, this would cut down on major fires and the burns would be more controlled and actually produce better grass for all.

    • Puller, you hit the nail on the head, as usual LOL…(It amazes me how we always seem to see the common sense side of these stories while all those in positions of “power” have such a drastically small amount of said common sense!) There have been many studies that have shown an INCREASE of wild fire occurrences in areas where Equids have been removed for a season or more. There have been similar studies that have shown a DECREASE in wild fire occurrences in areas where Equids have been present for a season or more. (Gee, sounds pretty cut-n-dry to me! Ah, but what do I know!? LOL!)

      • Outback said

        This is also the case with cattle being removed from the land as well. I have seen studies done where there were NO cattle and the fire danger dramatically rose to where if there was a summer or fall where a lightening storm would occur, the results would be devastated.

  2. jan said

    Wonder if copies of this report could be sent to EVERY RANCHER in America!!!

    That our wild horses are a BLESSING – and they do not destroy rangeland for cattle

    Send some copies to those bull-headed people in Washington DC who seem to think the wild horse is a liability instead of an asset on our public lands.

  3. Good Lord, science and common sense … what a combination! If this keeps up, politics might just play less a role in wildlife management. Whoa! We can’t have that, now can we?

    //Your “Sarc” tag here, if necessary.

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