Moo-ve over: Reducing negative effects of livestock grazing near streams in cutblocks

Research Brief Publication Date: May 02, 2024
Last Updated: July 11, 2024

Clayton A. Bradley, Morodoluwa Akin-Fajiye, Wendy C. Gardner, and Lauchlan H. Fraser


This study looked at the use of logging debris as a deterrent for cattle grazing near waterways in order to reduce negative effects on plant biodiversity.

Riparian zones are important ecosystems that provide multiple benefits including moderating stream temperatures, providing shade for fish and the aquatic ecosystem, filtering pollutants, trapping sediment, and providing food for wildlife, fish, and other aquatic organisms.

In areas with an overlapping forest and grazing tenure, livestock are more likely to graze in riparian zones in cutblocks due to easy access and readily available forage and water. However, livestock grazing in these areas can have negative effects on both ecology and drinking water, including reduced plant cover, fewer plant species, soil compaction, changes in the ability of the land to hold and release water, the destruction of aquatic habitats, and increased water-borne diseases through manure runoff.

Various management practices, such as fencing, herding on horseback, and rotational grazing are used to reduce the potential negative effects, but most practices are costly in time and/or money. Another known practice that is relatively inexpensive is using logging debris, such as logs and stumps, as a physical barrier to deter cattle.

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Black angus cows grazing near logging debris. Photo courtesy of Clayton Bradley.

About this Brief

This brief was prepared by the BC Food Web team with the help of Clayton Bradley and Lauchlan Fraser, and is based on the following scientific journal article:

Bradley, C. A., Akin-Fajiye, M, Gardner, W. C., & Fraser, L. H. (2022). Debris barriers reduce the effects of livestock grazing along streams after timber harvest. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 81, 1-8.


Key Findings

  • After timber harvesting, livestock grazing in riparian areas within cutblocks can have negative effects on aquatic and riparian ecosystems, such as reduced plant cover and fewer plant species.
  • Logging debris are a readily available resource that can be placed to prevent livestock from grazing in riparian areas post-harvest.