Compatibility of Dual Enterprises for Cattle and Deer in North America: A Quantitative Review

Author(s): Stacy L. Hines, Timothy E. Fulbright, Alfonso J. Ortega-S., Stephen L. Webb, David G. Hewitt, and Thomas W. Boutton
Published: January 2021

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Grazing by livestock, particularly cattle (Bos spp.), is the dominant land use across North American rangelands and often co-occurs in habitats used by wildlife. Deer (Odocoileus spp.) are an ecologically and economically important native wildlife species in North America. Sustainable management and profitable economic returns require an understanding of the factors driving cattle-deer compatibility. Cattle are compatible with deer when cattle grazing does not negatively impact deer or their habitat requirements (food, cover, and space). We reviewed 2,685 publications on cattle-deer interactions across North American ecosystems to assess the compatibility of these two important genera. We extracted data from 85 of the publications, years ranged from 1930–2015, that met criteria for quantifying cattle-deer diet overlap, and cattle effects on deer food, cover, and space. We determined that cattle-deer compatibility across North American ecosystems is dictated: mostly by geographic region; followed by cattle stocking rate and season; and marginally by soil texture. Cattle and deer were compatible across North American ecosystems when cattle stocking rate was less than 0.12−0.17 AUY ha −1 . Cattle-deer diet overlap was lowest during summer and autumn. Although, cattle had the greatest potential to decrease forbs in the northeastern forested ecoregion on clay soils during autumn. Cattle had little measurable effect on habitat variables important to deer in open North American ecoregions dominated by herbaceous vegetation. In contrast to rangelands, cattle had the greatest potential to adversely impact deer food, cover, and use of space in forest-dominated ecoregions in North America. However, observations in eastern forested ecoregions only represented 6−16% our data sets. Our review reveals a range of conservative cattle stocking rates (0.12−0.17 AUY ha −1) that will have minimal impact on deer using rangelands, and that stocking rates in forested ecoregions may need to be reduced further to minimize impacts to deer and their habitat requirements.

Suggested Citation

Hines, S. L.,  T. E. Fulbright, A. J. Ortega-S., S. L. Webb, D. G. Hewitt, and T. W. Boutton. 2020. Compatibility of dual enterprises for cattle and deer in North America: a quantitative review. Rangeland Ecology & Management 74(2021):

White-tailed Deer Nilgai and Cattle Grazing Interactions