Ministry of Agriculture
BC Range Industry Overview
Most of British Columbia's ranchers depend on crown range. Crown range is typically used from May to October in the southern portion of the province and June to September in the northern portion of the province with private lands supplying the forage requirements for the remainder of the year.
What is range?
Range is any land supporting vegetation that can be consumed by both domestic livestock and wildlife and is managed as a natural ecosystem. Rangelands are either owned privately or by the Crown and are managed to supply forage for both livestock and wildlife.
Where are rangelands in BC?
Rangelands occur throughout most of British Columbia and are limited only by the rancher's imagination. Examples of rangeland include community pastures, grasslands, forestlands (logged and unlogged), shrublands, subalpine, alpine, parkland, and riparian areas (wetlands and riverine). The map indicates where range is currently being utilized.
How much forage on range is produced annually?
The amount of forage produced annually on range is very difficult to predict and highly dependent on climate, soil, elevation, latitude, and topographic conditions. Currently crown range produces about 900,000 Animal Unit Months per year. An Animal Unit Month is defined as the amount of forage that is required for one month by an average cow aged 6 months or older.
How is the forage on range produced?
Forage on range is generally produced by letting nature take its course. Plants occurring on range use all the sun, water, minerals, etc. available to them and produce forage that is harvested by a rancher's livestock and local wildlife.
How is range used?
Range plants are grazed by livestock and wildlife, and regrow, much like your law regrows after cutting. Under proper management, it is often very difficult to determine if range has been used. Generally, the only way to tell if use has occurred is if livestock are present or if they have recently moved.
What happens when forage leaves the range?
A small percentage of forage is harvested by both livestock and wildlife allowing them to grow, raise their young, and maintain their body condition.
What challenges do range manager's face?
Range is constantly being damaged by careless activities. Plants are typically injured or killed by severe trampling, overuse by both wildlife and livestock, and unauthorized use by all-terrain vehicles, pedal bikes, and 4 x 4's. This resulting damage severely limits the range from performing important ecological functions such as holding the soil and water in place. Human disturbance also provides an ideal site for weed invasion. Numerous weeds including Toadflax, Leafy Spurge, Knapweed, Houndstongue, Orange-flowered Hawkweed, and Canada Thistle are all a serious menace to the health of BC rangelands. Proper management applied with sound economics protects our range resources. Visitors must always leave gates as they are found and respect fences, as both are an important part of range management.
Who is involved in using range?
- Livestock producers
- Forest Companies
- Mining Companies
- General Public
Contacts and other resources:
- BC Agriculture AgriFood BC (InfoBasket) for more information.
- BC Ministry of Agriculture - Agri-food Statistical Information