Welcome to California Wool Growers Association Targeted Grazing in California Page

What is Targeted Grazing?

Targeted grazing is the application of a specific kind of livestock at a determined season, duration, and intensity to accomplish defined vegetation or landscape goals. The concept of targeted grazing has been around for decades and has taken many names, including prescribed grazing. Today targeted or prescribed grazing is a growing industry being conducted by a wide range of livestock owners including tradition producers, small farm herd/flock owners, and contract grazers.

Why Sheep?

The techniques to manage and manipulate vegetation are numerous including herbicides, mowing and prescribed fire. These methods have their places but they can be expensive or socially unacceptable. In many instances sheep offer several advantages: they’re natural and environmentally friendly; they’re highly mobile and are able to access remote areas; and they’re often less expensive than other methods.

Applying Targeted Grazing

Silviculture – In natural forests and commercial tree plantations, targeted grazing can be used to manage ground vegetation that competes with trees for water and nutrients. It can also reduce vegetative fuels in fire suppressed forests to mitigate the effects of wildfires.

Orchards and vineyards – Grazing to manage vegetation between trees and vines is being done throughout California, especially in orchards and vineyards under organic production.

Fire suppression – Grazing on grasslands and forests and browsing on shrublands can reduce fire-fuel loads, create firebreaks and green strips. There is growing interest in livestock grazing to reduce fire fuel loads in response to continued urban development at wildland interfaces and to the extensive and destructive fires of 2000. Strategically applied sheep and goat grazing has reduced the risk and extent of wildfire in many settings. The most successful programs to reduce fuel loads are in California, where goats and sheep are commonly employed to graze the highly flammable shrubs of the chaparral region. Intensive grazing at the urban interface can create effective firebreaks reducing losses to the urban community.

Wildlife habitat – Targeted grazing to improve wildlife habitat and increases endangered plant species is being incorporated into the management plans of many wetland and wildlife preserves. Depending on the site sheep, cattle or goats can be used to manipulate and improve species composition, yield, accessibility, nutrients and diversity in ways that favor wildlife and endangered plant species.


Want to know more?

Applying targeted grazing requires a commitment and understanding by the land manager and the livestock producer on the goals and objectives for both parities. The handbook “Targeted Grazing: A natural approach to vegetation management and landscape enhancement” is a tool that can assist the land manger and the producer in the process of setting up targeted grazing for a property. This handbook is available through the California Wool Growers Association Targeted Grazing website or in hardcopy through the American Sheep Industry Association.

To order a hard copy or CD please contact :

American Sheep Industry Association
Phone: 303-771-8200
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.sheepusa.org/ResearchEducation_Literature_TargetedGrazing 


Contact the California Wool Growers Association office for more information or contacts of producers in California who provide target grazing.