Livestock Grazing in Nevada

Data from the BLM rangeland grazing page and wild horse management page in Nevada:

  • 43 million acres available to livestock
  • 15.6 million acres available to horses and burros
  • 2 million AUMs available to livestock
  • 12,811 wild horses and burros allowed

Assuming that livestock graze six months per year, the AUM figure yields 333,000 cow/calf pairs on public lands in the state (2 million divided by 6).  The population density for these animals would be 7.7 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres (333,000 divided by 43 million times 1,000).

The population density for horses and burros is 0.8 animals per thousand acres (12,811 divided by 15.6 million times 1,000).

Land in Nevada can support ten times as many cow/calf pairs as horses and burros (7.7 divided by 0.8).  On HMAs subject to grazing allotments (which is most of them), it’s the same land!

Given that horses graze twelve months per year, they would consume roughly 154,000 AUMs annually (12,811 times 12).  If they were at 4X AML they would consume less than one third of the forage allocated to livestock (4 times 154,000 divided by 2 million).

Note that 4X AML represents almost two thirds of the wild horses and burros living on public lands managed by the BLM in the western U.S.  Earlier this year the total number of horses and burros was around 82,000 but is probably less than 70,000 now thanks to the roundups.

Two thirds of America’s wild horses and burros consume one third of the forage assigned to livestock in just one state, which supports an observation made earlier on these pages that the lion’s share of resources goes to cattle and sheep on western rangelands.  This is especially troubling on lands set aside for horses and burros.


The Virginia Range, on the western side of the state, has a population density of ten animals per thousand acres, maybe a bit more, providing further evidence that HMAs with densities of two or three animals per thousand acres are far from overpopulated.

RELATED: Livestock Grazing in Wyoming.

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