Impacts of goat browsing on salt cedar stands in West Texas
The objectives were to measure goat performance and preference of saltcedar (SC) in a pasture setting as well as SC response to browsing. Sixteen Boer-cross goats were conditioned to SC in individual pens for 16 days. SC and basal diet intake was recorded during conditioning, as well as goat weights throughout the study. Ten goats were then placed in 20’X40’ pens situated in dense SC stands, three plots per treatment. Treatment 1 consisted of plots grazed once; Treatment 2 consisted of plots grazed twice, after sufficient re-growth was observed on the SC plants. Additionally, 18 SC seedlings were defoliated by hand and measured for height and mass. SC intake increased over time in the conditioning and field trials. Goat weight did not change. SC cover decreased following treatment but did not differ between treatments. Mortality did not occur in any seedlings but height and aboveground mass were reduced by defoliation.