Change type of livestock grazing: freshwater marshes
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Changing the species or breed of livestock grazing in marshes or swamps could reduce undesirable impacts. For example, trampling impacts could be reduced by replacing heavy cows with sheep, rabbits or ducks. Additionally, different species and breeds of livestock feed in different ways, leading to different impacts on vegetation (Adler et al. 2001; Loucougaray et al. 2004). Sheep maintain shorter, more uniform lawns of vegetation than cattle which leave tufts of longer vegetation, whilst horses can maintain patches of short vegetation. Traditional or heritage livestock breeds may consume different species of plants in different amounts to modern breeds (Tolhurst & Oates 2001). The temperament of livestock may also be an important consideration, with docile breeds being easier to manage around people.
To be summarized as evidence for this action, studies should ideally have compared grazing by different types of livestock at similar times and at a similar overall intensity. However, variation in timing and intensity might be inextricably linked to the change in livestock species (e.g. Nolte et al. 2014).
Related actions: Exclude or remove livestock from historically grazed sites; Use grazing to maintain or restore disturbance; Use grazing to control problematic plants; Modify livestock farming practices in watershed.
Adler P., Raff D. & Lauenroth W. (2001) The effect of grazing on the spatial heterogeneity of vegetation. Oecologia, 128, 465–479.
Loucougaray G., Bonis A. & Bouzillé J.-B. (2014) Effects of grazing by horses and/or cattle on the diversity of coastal grasslands in western France. Biological Conservation, 116, 59–71.
Nolte S., Esselink P., Smit C. & Bakker J.P. (2014) Herbivore species and density affect vegetation-structure patchiness in salt marshes. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 185, 41–47.
Tolhurst S. & Oates M. (2001) The Breed Profiles’ Handbook: A Guide to the Selection of Livestock Breeds for Grazing Wildlife Sites. English Nature, Peterborough.