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Title: Management characteristics of cow-calf, stocker, and finishing operations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas

item Asem-Hiablie, Senorpe
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Stout, Robert
item DILLON, JASMINE - Pennsylvania State University
item STACKHOUSE-LAWSON, KIM - National Cattlemen'S Beef Association (NCBA)

Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2015
Publication Date: 2/20/2015
Citation: Asem-Hiablie, S., Rotz, C.A., Stout, R.C., Dillon, J., Stackhouse-Lawson, K. 2015. Management characteristics of cow-calf, stocker, and finishing operations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Professional Animal Scientist. 31(1):1-10. doi:10.15232/pas.2014-01350.

Interpretive Summary: Both producers and consumers of animal products are developing concern for the sustainability of production systems. The beef industry has defined sustainability as meeting the growing demand for beef by balancing environmental responsibility, economic opportunity, and social diligence. Measuring sustainability is challenging, as the beef supply chain is one of the most complex food systems in the world. A comprehensive life cycle assessment is to be conducted to quantify the sustainability of beef production throughout seven regions of the United States. The first region for in-depth study consists of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. To properly assess the production systems of this region, surveys were conducted to gather information on common management practices of cow-calf, stocker, and finishing operations. Production practices varied throughout the region with the major differences occurring between the wetter climate in the eastern side of the states and the semiarid climate on the western side. Cattle stocking rates and the use of fertilizer decreased moving from east to west. Grazing of grass, range and small grains is heavily used in cow calf and stocker operations. Most of the cattle are finished on high concentrate rations in large feedyards on the western side of the states. The information collected provides a basis for characterizing beef producing operations of the region to assess their sustainability.

Technical Abstract: An assessment of the sustainability of beef production in the Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas region requires information on their production practices. A voluntary survey was conducted for ranches and feedyards in the region along with site visits to gather information on production practices. Responses to the survey along with site visits represented 0.8% of the cows maintained and 19% of the cattle finished in the region with a wide range in size and types of operations. Most characteristics of cow calf and stocker ranches did not vary much across states, but there were significant differences in stocking rates, forage harvested, and feedyard sizes from the wetter eastern side of the region to the dry, semi-arid conditions of the western side. Average stocking rate increased from 2.4 ha/cow (1.3 ha/stocker) in the east to 15.7 ha/cow (4.6 ha/stocker) in the west. More forage was harvested in the east along with greater use of fertilizers. The largest feedyards were located on the western side of the region. No other consistent differences in feedyard management were found across the region or among states. Two feedyards in Central Kansas produced a major portion of their feed while most of the others appeared to manage just enough cropland to dispose of feedyard runoff and minor amounts of manure. The information gathered is being used to develop representative operations for a comprehensive life cycle assessment of the economic and environmental sustainability of beef cattle production in the region.