Livestock system cartoon

Systems are the regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. Forage-livestock systems are productive assemblages that consider and utilize animal, plant, and soil characteristics within an environmental perspective. Forages not only are the main food source for livestock but are the habitat or site for animals for most of the day. So understanding how the the animals interact with the plants that grow in the soil is advantageous. Proper management of the the plant-animal-soil continuum will improve the economics and ecology of the the components and the whole.

The outstanding characteristics of the common grasses and legumes are best appreciated when viewed within a forage-livestock system. The interrelationship among the components of a farm or ranch is amazing and, when well understood, the key to proper management and sustainability.

Understanding the forage-livestock system helps managers to work towards goals of the owner/operator within the constraints imposed by the environment and available resources. Though easily stated, this is a difficult task. Each of the components (plant, soil, animal) can be influenced by the manager. Often times a single component is viewed independently and management mistakes are made. This module will address some the possible influences a manager can make and their impact on the total system.