Grass Growth and Response to Grazing

Grasses are the dominant plants in most forage-based enterprises throughout the world. Whether livestock graze native rangeland or tame pastures, grasses usually are the basis of the energy and nutrients for animal growth and maintenance. Grazing livestock should harvest only part of the perennial forage crop to maintain the health and vigor of grasses. Energy and nutrients from forage-based diets produce approximately 80 percent of the red meat products consumed in the United States. Animal gains from forage-based programs usually are less expensive than from any other current program. Animal products come from lands that usually are not suited for production of other food or fiber for human consumption. These lands include rangelands that usually are not capable of being cropped and pasturelands that are not suited for long-term intensive crop production because of low productivity, high erosion risk or other problems. Manage these lands to sustain perennial grass production. Growth and Development A grass plant is a collection of plant parts, like a tree or shrub, made up of growth units called tillers. Each tiller produces roots and leaves. Vegetative tillers consist primarily of leaves (Figure 1), whereas reproductive tille

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