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Assessment of areas under livestock use in the buffer zone of a nature reserve in Chiapas, Mexico

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Authors: H. Gómez Castro, D. Galdámez Figueroa, F. Guevara Hernández, A. Ley de Coss y R. Pinto Ruiz
Issue: 109-1 (69-85)
Topic: Animal Production
Keywords: Extensive ranching, grassland productivity, livestock impacts.

The purpose of this study was to assess the livestock areas of a community that borders on a nature reserve in Chiapas. Pasturing units were classified, net aerial primary production was calculated as well as the digestibility of the predominant grass species (Brachiaria brizantha). Additionally, grazing burden was calculated and compared to the carrying capacity of the pastures. Three types of pastoral units were identified in relation to their tree density: Low Tree Density Pasture (24%), Medium Tree Density Pasture (54%), and High Tree Density Pasture (22%). Tree community composition mainly included citrus species such as orange (Citrus cinensis) and mandarine (Citrus aurantium), as well as forage trees such as Guazuma ulmifolia, Gliricidia sepium and Leucaena leucocephala. The grass species Brachiaria brizantha was identified in 85% of the pasture areas. In order to evaluate the effect of the type of pastoral unit and the cutting date on the primary production year- 1 ha- 1 of B. brizantha, a divided parcel design was designed with random complete blocks. No significant differences were found between types of pastoral units, but they were found between distinct cutting dates (15, 30 and 45 days), with the primary production reaching its height at 45 days (11 398 year- 1 ha- 1). Dry matter content and in vitro digestibility of B. brizantha were not influenced by the cutting date, but were influenced by the type of pastoral unit. The greatest dry matter content was obtained in Open pasture (37.9%), while the Medium tree density had the highest Digestibility (41.1%). The optimum point for grass use efficiency (found by combining highest primary production and digestibility) was found at 24 days. A total of 547 bovines were identified in the community, which represent 497 animal units and an apparent animal burden of 1.34 AU ha- 1. Taking the carrying capacity of pastures and an assignation of 5% as a reference, each hectare of pasture can sustain a maximum of 1.17 AU per day. Results suggest that 45% of producers overgraze their pastures, 43% underuse them, and 12% achieve an appropriate use of pastures. These data can be used by conservation institutions to plan and regulate livestock raising activities in areas of conservation and high diversity

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