Beef and Bobwhites – How to Maximize Livestock Production While Helping Wildlife

Thanks to Nick Schell, a wildlife biologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for sharing this article with us. I added the section pointing out conservation practices that farmers and ranchers might receive assistance in implementing. You’re probably familiar with the northern bobwhite and its decline. The bobwhite, or what many of us call quail, has seen its population dip by more than 80 percent across large sections of its range during the past 60 years. Farmers can greatly help the species with a few tweaks to their cattle operations. Why Are Bobwhites in Decline? Bobwhites are an “edge” species, meaning they seek brushy habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures, and old fields. But this type of habitat is tough to find.  The rise of non-native forage for cattle and advanced agricultural equipment that leaves behind fewer weeds and brush have both decreased available habitat. In many ways, cattle and bobwhites have become mutually exclusive. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Benefiting Beef and ‘Bobs’ To help reconnect cattle and quail, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with cattle producers to replace non-native forage grasses, like fescue, with native warm-season grasses that create productive and palatable grazing options for livestock while benefiting quail and other wildlife species. By replacing non-native forages with native ones, producers can benefit from pa

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