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Scientists Say Grazing Livestock Benefit from Plant Diversity

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It seems like a no-brainer and&nbsp;revolutionary grassfarmer&nbsp;<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Salad-Bar-Beef-Joel-Salatin/dp/096381091X” target=”_blank”>Joel Salatin</a>&nbsp;has been saying it for decades &hellip; it&rsquo;s official now though, diversity in the pasture matrix is good for grazing animals.</p>
<p>According to a fantastic article in the current issue of <a href=”http://www.srmjournals.org/perlserv/?request=index-html&amp;ct=1″ target=”_blank”>Rangelands</a>, which is published by the&nbsp;<a href=”http://www.rangelands.org/index.shtml” target=”_blank”>Society for Range Management</a>, as higher costs and environmental concerns about fossil fuels push more people to buy locally produced food, demand for livestock raised on pastures and rangelands&mdash;rather than in feed lots&mdash;is spurring a return to greater reliance on native rangelands and cultivated pastures.</p>
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<p>&ldquo;By focusing on a few species, people transformed the diverse world of plants into a manageable domain that generally meets energy and protein needs and limits&nbsp; intake of toxins,&rdquo; writes Frederick D. Provenza and his coauthors in the article, &ldquo;Value of Plant Diversity for Diet Mixing and Sequencing in Herbivores.&rdquo;</p>
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<p>But this practice limits genetic plant diversity and health benefits to livestock from combinations of available plants nutrients, while threatening ecosystems reliant on biodiversity to avoid catastrophe. The researchers suggest a new alternative for livestock grazing that calls for having animals eat a variety of complementary plants. They suggest that these varied plants would provide a range of primary and secondary nutritional compounds, along with greater health and nutritional benefits. No surprise there, but good for the SRM researchers for taking a stand.</p>
<p>The article, &ldquo;Value of Plant Diversity for Diet Mixing and Sequencing in Herbivores,&rdquo; is available in its entirety,&nbsp;<a href=”http://www.allenpress.com/pdf/rala31.1i1551-501X-31-1-45.pdf” target=”_blank”>here</a>.</p>
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<a href=”http://www.grit.com/biographies/oscar-h-will” target=_self>Hank Will</a>
<em> raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper’s Farmer magazines. Connect with him on </em>
<a title=Google+ href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/117459637128204205101/posts” target=_blank rel=author>Google+</a>.</p>

Published on Mar 10, 2009

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