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Grazing to save grassland

By Staff | Apr 16, 2010

AMES – Results are coming in from a three-year experiment to determine if modest grazing and browsing pressure on natural areas can help to restore Iowa’s natural prairie and savannah.

“We are seeing if cattle and goats can thrive while restoring native habitat,” said Loren Lown, a natural resource specialist for the Polk County Conservation Board. “We are improving species’ diversity while maintaining cattle and goat productivity and restoring native pasture.”

Lown presented findings from the experiment at a workshop, held recently in Ames. The project, he said has been a coordination of scientists, farmers and conservationists.

Norman McCoy, with the Entrepreneurial and Diversified Agriculture program at Marshalltown Community College said he suggested using goats to restore habitat at Chichaqua Wildlife Refuge.

“It happened to coincide with the Polk County Conservation Board’s plans, and we won a grant to pay for it,” said McCoy.

According to Lown, 38 goats were brought in and allowed to graze on a rotation of fenced off paddocks.

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