January 13, 2015

Prairie chickens in the Sandhills: information for ranchers

A chick rests in the hand of a UNL research scientist during habitat
studies in the Nebraska Sandhills.  (photo by Jess Milby)
My colleagues and I started thinking in 2008 about the need to provide ranchers in Nebraska's Sandhills with information to help them manage their pastures for prairie chickens. 

The problem is that most information that was available at that time was based on research in tall grass prairies.  Tall grass prairies receive more rain and have more grass and the vegetation is more dense.

The previous management guidelines routinely called for more grass to be left in the field than is typically found in a Sandhills pasture--so, Sandhills ranchers were faced with a dilemma: "Do I really have to abstain from grazing to provide for prairie chickens?"

The answer is no, and if you follow this link, you'll find a nice, glossy 20-page document that describes prairie chickens, their life history, their habitat needs, and how to provide for them on ranches in the Sandhills!

The Extension Circular is based on 5 years of research in the Sandhills, and the research was funded through Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.  It was a huge collaborative effort, with multiple graduate students and summer technicians collecting a lot of data.  There was sweat involved.  And, a lot of love for the critter of interest.

Here's hoping that this is useful to someone.

1 comment:

  1. Ranchers in the sandhills, presumably! It would be fun to sit down with a bunch of ranchers and do this SDM/rapid prototyping style.