Targeted conservation grazing using molasses to increase preferential consumption of old growth pasture grasses

Article English OPEN
Grange, Ian ; Conservation Science Group, University of Cambridge CB2 3QZ
  • Publisher: University of Cambridge

High conservation value grasslands, which are usually marginal and agriculturally poor, are often difficult to manage appropriately for biodiversity enhancement. A key management tool for this is conservation grazing, by which grazing intensity, timing and duration can be altered to suppress certain plant species, such as the more dominant grasses without impacting on other less competitive herbaceous ones. It has been suggested that the application of molasses to plant leaves could effectively encourage livestock to consume old and rank pasture grasses. This study assessed whether such an approach could be adapted to UK conservation grasslands, by using molasses to target grazing towards problem areas of dominant grass species. When Dexter cattle were exposed to areas of upright brome Bromopsis erecta and wood false-brome Brachypodium sylvaticum that had received a single application of molasses in the autumn period, no preference was shown for the treated plants. In the late winter period, however, cattle showed a significant preference for upright brome plants that had received two applications of molasses. Therefore, if consideration is given to the timing and frequency of molasses applied to target vegetation, it can be used as a conservation grazing management tool for some less palatable grasses.
  • References (24)
    24 references, page 1 of 3

    Austin M.P. (1968) Pattern in a Zerna erecta dominated community. Journal of Ecology 56, 197-218.

    Beames R.M. (1960) The supplementation of low quality hay and pasture with molasses and molasses urea mixtures. Proceedings of the Australian Society of Animal Production 3, 86-92.

    Bobbink R. & Willems J.H. (1987) Increasing dominance of Brachypodium pinnatum (L.) Beauv. In chalk grasslands: A threat to species rich ecosystems. Biological Conservation 40, 301-314.

    Carey P.D., Wallis S., Chamberlain P.M., Cooper A., Emmett B.A., Maskell L.C., McCann T., Murphy J., Norton L.R., Reynolds B., Scott W.A., Simpson I.C., Smart S.M. & Ullyett J.M. (2008) Countryside Survey: UK Results from 2007. NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH Project Number: C03259).

    Cleasby T.G (1963) The feeding value of molasses. Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists' Association. April 1963, 113-117.

    Coombe J.B. & Tribe D.E. (1962) The feeding of urea supplements to sheep and cattle: the results of penned feeding and grazing experiments. Journal of Agricultural Science 55, 125-141.

    Critchley C.N.R., Burke M.J.W. & Stevens D.P. (2004) Conservation of lowland semi-natural grasslands in the UK: A review of botanical monitoring results from agrienvironment schemes. Biological Conservation, 115, 263- 278.

    Crofts A. & Jefferson R.G. (eds) (1999) The Lowland Grassland Management Handbook (2nd edition) English Nature/The Wildlife Trusts.

    Dixon J.M. (1991) Biological Flora of the British Isles: Avenula (Dumort.) Dumort. Journal of Ecology 79, 829-865.

    Findlay D.C., Colborne G.J.N., Cope D.W., Harrod T.R., Hogan D.V. & Staines S.J. (1984) Soils and their use in South West England. Soil Survey of England and Wales Bulletin No. 14, Harpenden.

  • Metrics
    0
    views in OpenAIRE
    0
    views in local repository
    7
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    CREST Repository - IRUS-UK 0 7
Share - Bookmark