What Are the Causes of Overgrazing?

Overgrazing is caused by having too many animals grazing on land or by not properly controlling the grazing activity of the animals. Overgrazing results in several negative consequences to both the land and the animals.

Overgrazed land may see a loss of plant life. Cattle that graze on land often eat the younger seeds of plants, reducing the possibility for mature plant species to thrive. Soil is negatively affected as it loses depth, nutrients and eventually becomes eroded. Complete desertification may occur. Animals who depend upon land that is overgrazed suffer from nutrient deficiencies due to the fact the plant life on the land is no longer as robust. Animals may fail to gain weight appropriate to their life and production stage and may yield less of the product for which they are being raised.

Solutions to prevent and treat the effects of overgrazing include implementing fertilizers to augment soil nutrition and planting alternative grasses that help the land resist degradation. Controlling animals that graze is another step that can reduce overgrazing. Not allowing these animals to graze continuously is another solution. Reducing the overall herd numbers is also a solution, as is rotating the animals from one part of a pasture to another.