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Packhorse Grazing Behavior and Immediate Impact on a Timberline Meadow

K. M. Olson-Rutz, C. B. Marlow, K. Hansen, L. C. Gagnon and R. J. Rossi
Journal of Range Management
Vol. 49, No. 6 (Nov., 1996), pp. 546-550
DOI: 10.2307/4002297
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4002297
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Packhorse Grazing Behavior and Immediate Impact on a Timberline Meadow
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Abstract

Recreational packhorse grazing is one of many uses of high elevation wildland meadows. We quantified the behavior of horses grazing on an upper timberline meadow in southwestern Montana and the immediate impact on the plant community. Horses were picketed on 15-m diameter circles for different durations (0, 4, 8, 18 hours), months (July, August, September), and frequencies (1 month only, all 3 months) over 3 summers. We recorded the amount of time horses spent grazing or resting, horse movement while grazing, plant height, and grazed plant frequency before and after grazing. Grazing was the dominant activity throughout the trial. After an initial 3-4 hour feeding bout, horses continued to graze intermittently. When not grazing, horses rested more than walked. Horses grazed a higher percent of grasses at first (4 hour picket duration) but the percent of forbs grazed increased with increased time on picket. After 18 hours of use, or after repeated use on the same picket circle through the summer, more than 50% of the grasses and 20% of the forbs had been grazed and tallest plant material was less than 12 cm tall. Recreational packhorse management should include previous training (picket grazing experience), limiting time on specific circles to 8 hours or less, and using picket circles only once each season.

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