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According to the 2017 United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service report (USDA-NASS 2017), Nebraska is the number one ranked state in the United States for both cattle on feed and for beef slaughtering capacity. It ranks number two in all cattle and calves while ranking number four in the number of beef cows. Beef production has a $12.1 billion impact annually to the Nebraska economy including $6.5 billion in direct sales (Nebraska Beef Cattle Facts 2016).
Given the above information, a research question was motivated to evaluate the forage production of Nebraska’s perennial grazing land systems and its potential to increase cow/calf production in Nebraska. Until now, this type of research to perform a gap analysis of the forage supply and demand from perennial grazing lands on a statewide basis had not been conducted.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture (USDA-NASS 2014) provided the cattle numbers on a county-by-county basis for this study. An assumption was made that only beef cattle were grazing the perennial grasslands in each county. Replacement heifers were assumed equal to 20% of the beef cow numbers with 80% expected to get bred as yearlings representing a 16% replacement rate. The number of bulls were assumed equal to 4% of the beef cow numbers representing a 1 to 25 bull to cow ratio. The number of backgrounding calves (stockers) utilizing grazing resources can then be calculated with the following formula.