Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Allowable Use

Allowable use, or proper use, refers to the level of utilization that promotes maximum grazing of forage sources without damaging the vegetation. Allowable use may refer to the entire management unit; or it may be based on selected key species.

Therefore, allowable use concepts aim to integrate the plant's physiological requirements into a management framework by considering their ability to maintain an acceptable level of vigor and reproductive capacity when defoliated. Great effort has been devoted to developing allowable use factors for key species, according to specific regions, range condition, seasons, and type of livestock. Some of these figures have been based on clipping studies, while others have relied on professional judgement. However, such applications of utilization measurements should only be accepted as general guidelines, because too many other plant, animal, and environmental factors also influence the resilience of vegetation to grazing.

References and Further Reading

Frost, W.E., E.L. Smith, and P.R. Ogden. 1994. Utilization guidelines. Rangelands 16:256-259.

Hedrick, D.W. 1958. Proper utilization - problem in evaluating the physiological response of plants to grazing: a review. Journal of Range Management 11:34-43.

Sharp, L., K. Sanders, and N. Rimbey. 1994. Management decisions based on utilization - is it really management? Rangelands 16:38-40.