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Pasture (from the Latin pastus, past participle of pascere ”to feed”) is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs. Pasture is typically grazed throughout the summer, in contrast to meadow which is used for grazing only after being mown to make hay for winter fodder.
Pasture lands in the narrow sense are distinguished from rangelands by being managed through more intensive agricultural practices of seeding, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers, while rangelands grow primarily native vegetation, managed with extensive practices like controlled burning and regulated intensity of grazing.
Prior to the advent of factory farming with its use of "zero-grazing" feeding techniques, pasture was the primary source of food for grazing animals such as cattle and horses. It is still used extensively, particularly in arid regions where pasture land is unsuitable for any other agricultural production. In more humid regions, pasture grazing is exploited extensively for free range and organic farming. It is an important biotic resource.
Examples of pasture habitats
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