Livestock Grazing in California

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

  • 6.1 million acres available to livestock
  • 2.5 million acres available to horses and burros
  • 472,000 AUMs available to livestock
  • 2,200 wild horses and burros allowed

Assuming that livestock graze six months per year, the AUM figure yields 78,600 cow/calf pairs on public lands in the state (472,000 divided by 6).  The population density for these animals would be 12.9 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres (78,600 divided by 6.1 million times 1,000).

The population density for horses and burros is 0.9 animals per thousand acres (2,200 divided by 2.5 million times 1,000).

Land in California can support fourteen times as many cow/calf pairs as horses and burros (12.9 divided by 0.9).  On HMAs subject to grazing allotments, it’s the same land!


Given that horses graze twelve months per year, they would consume roughly 26,400 AUMs annually (2,200 times 12).  If they were at 4X AML they would consume less than one fourth of the forage allocated to livestock (4 times 26,400 divided by 472,000).


Even the casual observer should be able to look at these charts and realize that wild horse overpopulation is nothing more than a bullshit storyline intended to protect the ranching hegemony on western rangelands.

But the overpopulation narrative will continue, and most of the so-called advocates will demand more PZP for the horses, because nobody bothers to look at the data.

RELATED: Livestock Grazing in Nevada.

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