Abstract

Abstract A grazing system includes unique soil, plant, and animal attributes. Interactions between these entities will necessarily invoke reactions by the other players in the system. History shows us that manipulation of any one component of the system may or may not have negative ramifications on the system’s overall productivity and health. Novel approaches to improve nutrient use efficiency and product output from forage based livestock production systems are essential if we hope to provide high quality, nutrient dense, and high biological value livestock food products to an ever increasing world population. Furthermore, to ensure grazing systems’ health and sustainability these novel approaches must be evaluated for merit in a scientific and multidisciplinary manner. The Appalachian region is noted for its beautiful mountains, with farms generally containing a higher percentage of wooded area than pasture. If farm livestock productivity were to be increased, a novel approach was needed to bring woodlots into forage production. A long term research project was conducted at the Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, in Beaver, WV, to determine how wooded areas could be transitioned into forage production systems in a sustainable manner. A multidisciplinary team was utilized to determine the implications of silvopasture development on soil and water quality, plant community response, and livestock productivity. Silvopasture was found to be a viable option for improving an Appalachian farm’s livestock productivity in an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable manner. Research is currently being conducted in central Oklahoma which evaluates methods of improving livestock productivity in a sustainable manner within native prairie livestock systems. This research is also team oriented, multidisciplinary, and multi-institutional. Production oriented approaches include the use of novel management practices, and the determination of superior phenotypic and genotypic livestock traits. Findings and experiences related to both geographic locations are presented and discussed.

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