Sheep and goats can take some of the frustration – and expense – out of the fight against noxious weeds and brush, said a West Texas researcher.

Dr. John Walker, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station resident director of research at San Angelo, co-authored the handbook, "Targeted Grazing: A Natural Approach to Vegetation Management and Landscape Enhancement." The project was funded through a grant from the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center in cooperation with the American Sheep Industry Association.

"Using livestock to manage vegetation is an ancient practice," Walker said. "But grazing animals to manage vegetation as a paid service is a fairly new idea, especially in the U.S. The practice known as prescribed or targeted grazing, is growing steadily in environmentally sensitive areas where herbicides and other more intrusive noxious plant control measures are banned or held in ill favor."

The handbook -- which Walker said is "the first of its kind" – offers research-based tips on grazing management to improve the land for different purposes.

The first six chapters outline the basic principles of animal and plant interactions in targeted grazing. The second section looks at several management applications used to control broadleafed weeds, invasive grasses and noxious brush.

The last three chapters look at targeted grazing from different perspectives and offer additional resources, a glossary and photos.

The 199-page softbound book has been 10 years in the making. The final push was triggered by a 2003 prescribed grazing conference in Nevada. The venue's overflow crowd of producers underscored the interest in adopting targeted grazing as a business and the need for an easily understood handbook, Walker said.

Dr. Karen Launchbaugh, rangeland professor and department head with the University of Idaho, joined Walker in completing the publication.

The $25 handbook and an accompanying compact disc are available through the American Sheep Industry Association. Contact them at 303-771-350, FAX: 303-771-8200, Email: info@sheepusa.org , Web site: http://www.sheepusa.org/targetedgrazing.