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Beef Research Figured Into Computer Model / May 19, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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DECI computer model shows cattle management options

Beef Research Figured Into Computer Model

By Ben Hardin
May 19, 1998

Beef producers can now tap into up-to-date research via a new computer model that helps farmers and ranchers match feed and genetic resources to best meet market demands.

Called DECI, for Decision Evaluator for the Cattle Industry, the user-friendly model explores "what if" management scenarios. It helps producers avoid costly mistakes or missed opportunities that otherwise might go unrecognized. Questions addressed by DECI include: Is the cost of harvested feeds impeding profitability? Would reducing feed, or breeding cows to calve earlier or later in a season, make better use of forages available on the farm? As choices involving feed are made, what happens to cow conception rates, weaning weights and the need for female replacements?

As Agricultural Research Service scientists developed the model and adapted it to personal computers, producers in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), consultants and beef extension specialists helped evaluate its progress. A few weeks ago DECI was combined with SPA, a standard production analysis that the NCBA uses to evaluate economic performance of cattle.

DECI is designed to evolve with updated research information. The model could eventually help producers evaluate costs versus returns for producing cattle to be marketed under a premium pricing system based on qualities such as meat leanness, rather than carcass weight.

A feature story on DECI appears in the May 1998 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. The article is also on the World Wide Web at

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/may98/deci0598.htm

Scientific contact: Thomas G. Jenkins, Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE 68933; phone (402) 762-4247, fax (402) 762-4155, e-mail jenkins@email.marc.usda.gov

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