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Factors that were determinants of profit variability in calf-fed and yearling beef production systems were identified and ranked. The analysis indicated cattle prices have the greatest influence on profit variation for both systems and on all backgrounding and finishing phases of the yearling system. Prices of feedstuffs (i.e., corn prices, wet corn gluten feed prices, and pasture and cornstalk rental rates) were the next most important factors explaining profit risk. Cattle performance variables and interest rates had the smallest impact on profit variation.