Patch Burning Means Fewer Fences, Better Grazing Management and Improved Wildlife Habitat

Ranchers on the tallgrass prairie traditionally burn their pastures each spring before summer grazing. After fire, plants grow more quickly, and the new growth is very nutritious. But the practice is problematic for migratory birds. It reduces nesting and feeding habitat just when they need it most. So, how can ranchers balance getting great forage while maintaining wildlife habitat? Jane Koger, a rancher in Matfield Kansas suggests that patch-burning is a good option. Instead of burning an entire pasture, patch-burns focus on a portion of the pasture. Generally, one-third of each grazing unit is burned annually in rotation. Post-fire regrowth attracts cattle to burned areas where forage is most nutritious. The remainder of the pasture is only grazed lightly. This lets plants rest and build root mass while providing the habitat that wildlife prefer. The Homestead

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2 thoughts on “Patch Burning Means Fewer Fences, Better Grazing Management and Improved Wildlife Habitat

  1. Great article, Kathy. So glad to see it. I know Koger well. Her brother, Ed, also practices pbg in the Red Hills of southcentral-southwest Kansas. It has shown remarkable recovery of lesser prairie chickens and redcedar control which is a real menace. Thanks for publishing this.

  2. I think it’s the font, but the aerial photo caption looks like it says
    “one third bum sectors.” In Canada a bum is not a hobo, or a vagrant, or what my dad sometimes called me when I didn’t do my chores. . . . In Canada a “bum” is what in the U.S. we used to call a person’s butt. I believe they are divided into two sectors, not three.

    I wonder how they control these fires if there are gusts of wind?

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