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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #311872

Research Project: MANAGING FARMS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AND PROFIT

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: A survey of grass-finished beef producers in Pennsylvania

Author
item Dillon, Jasmine - Pennsylvania State University
item Rotz, Clarence - Al

Submitted to: American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/30/2015
Publication Date: 1/12/2015
Citation: Dillon, J., Rotz, C.A. 2015. A survey of grass-finished beef producers in Pennsylvania[Abstract]. American Forage and Grassland Conference Proceedings. p. 1.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: To meet our goal of quantifying the environmental impacts of grass-finished beef production, data on production practices in Pennsylvania were collected at the farm level via visits and online surveys. Twenty-three responses represented a total of 1,055 animals on 2,155 acres of land. Farms were relatively small with an average size of 94 acres and 46 cattle including 21 cows, 12 stockers, and 10 finishing animals. Average mature cow weight was 1,206 lbs, and calf weaning weight was 525 lbs. Cattle were finished at 25 months of age on average with an average finish weight of 1,028 lbs. A dressing percentage in the range of 55 – 60% was reported by 39% of farms, and 26% reported a range of 60 – 65%. Implants and other growth promoting technologies were not used. Seventy-three percent of the land represented by responses was grazed by cattle with 90, 5, and 1% of those grazing lands managed as perennial pasture, annual pasture, or crop residue, respectively. Cattle were grazed on average 8 months of the year. Nitrogen, P, and K fertilizer use was reported on 15%, 5% and 5% of farms, respectively, and 76% applied lime at some interval. An annual average of 0.6 tons of feed/animal was purchased to maintain the herd, with dry hay and grass or alfalfa silage being the most commonly purchased feeds. Hay or silage was harvested on 52% of farms for winter feeding. The data and information obtained will provide the basis for determining environmental impacts through farm simulation and life cycle assessment.