Date of this Version
Cornhusker Economics (May 2012)
Profitability of beef cattle production is highly dependent upon cost of production. The largest variable cost associated with cow/calf production is feed cost. One strategy to reduce cost is to extend the grazing season. Knowledge of the cows’ nutritional requirements, and factors such as calving and weaning date and utilization of crop residue can be used to extend grazing. A second factor affecting profitability of beef cattle production is revenue. Cattle markets tend to have seasonal variation throughout the year and vary with respect to calf size and class, creating opportunities to match a production system with the markets. Determining the most profitable beef cattle production system requires knowledge of the productivity of possible systems.
Data from a four year study involving 217 cows/year (5/8 Red Angus, 3/8 Continental) were used to compare net returns among five cow/calf production systems. They varied both winter grazing regimes and calving season: 1) March calving cows wintered on native range; 2) March calving cows wintered on corn residue; 3) June calving cows wintered on native range; 4) June calving cows wintered on corn residue; and 5) August calving cows wintered on corn residue.