Heavily stocked 5-paddock rotational grazing effect on cross-bred Afrikaner steer performance and herbaceous vegetation dynamics in a semi-arid veld of Zimbabwe
African Journal of Agricultural Research
Matopos Research Station, P. Bag K5137, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; University of Fort Hare, Department of Livestock and Pasture Science, University of Fort Hare, P. Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa; Natural Resources and the Environment, Ecosystems Dynamics and Processes Group, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, P. O. Box 395, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; Khulasizwe Trust, P. O. Box QP 23, Queenspark, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Department of Agriculture, Limpopo Province, South Africa
A ten-year high stocking rate trial, mimicking communal areas was initiated at Matopos Research Station, Zimbabwe. Afrikaner steer crosses grazed continuously or rotationally at a high stocking rate (0.4 LU.ha-1) in two 45 ha areas, with one fenced into five 9 ha camps each for the rotational grazing sites, with 30 animals per site. It was hypothesized that, heavily stocked rotation will not improve herbage biomass, decreaser species abundance, basal cover or animal performance. Biomass, basal cover and decreaser species abundance were not (P > 0.05) significantly different between the grazing systems, save for Themeda triandra, Setaria incrassata and Panicum novemnerve, but were significant (P < 0.05) in terms of annual variation. Mean maximum steer weight gain was higher (P < 0.05) under continuous grazing. It was concluded that, the creation of rigid rotational grazing schemes in communal areas without proper stocking rates will not improve animal performance, herbage production, basal cover, but might have an effect on species abundance. In higher rainfall years, heavy stocking has no adverse effects on performance. Hence, any plans of grazing interventions on livestock management in communal areas, should consider stocking rate and rainfall, with a rapid stock reduction strategy in projected low rainfall years. © 2011 Academic Journals.
Animalia; Panicum; Themeda triandra