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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #339111

Title: Economics of transitioning from a cow-calf-yearling operation to a stocker operation as a potential strategy to address brucellosis risk in northwestern Wyoming

item RUFF, SHANE - University Of Wyoming
item BASTIAN, CHRIS - University Of Wyoming
item Peck, Dannele
item COOK, WALT - Texas A&M University

Submitted to: Extension Circular
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2017
Publication Date: 9/15/2017
Citation: Ruff, S., Bastian, C., Peck, D.E., Cook, W. 2017. Economics of transitioning from a cow-calf-yearling operation to a stocker operation as a potential strategy to address brucellosis risk in northwestern Wyoming. Extension Circular. University of Wyoming Extension Publication B-1300.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: An alternative enterprise for cattle ranchers that produce cows and calves is the production of stocker cattle. While stocker only operations have generally found to be less profitable than cow-calf or cow-calf-yearling operations, potential reasons for switching to stockers from having cows could include producer desire to avoid winter feeding, reduce labor associated with calving during inclement weather, more quickly adapt to existing forage supplies, or to address potential disease issues within the cowherd, such as bovine brucellosis. Brucellosis is endemic in wild elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area, where producers are searching for alternative management strategies to avoid the potential economic consequences associated with infection. Producers in the GYA have expressed concerns about the profitability and financial risks of switching a cow/calf/yearling operation, which is common in that area, to stockers only. Researchers were asked to investigate the economics associated with different transition strategies to stockers and the ultimate profitability of doing so for producers in the region. While much work has been done on the economics of cow-calf-yearling operations versus stockers alone, no analyses have investigated the transition itself. Thus, for producers who may find themselves in the position of considering a potential switch to stockers, there is little guidance on the economics of transitioning to such an enterprise. The objective of this bulletin is to investigate the profitability and risks associated with a short one-year transition to stockers versus a longer transition, as compared to the traditional cow-calf-yearling production system. Highlights of our findings include: Switching to stockers over several years is more profitable than a one-year transition; Cow/calf/yearling operations tend to be more profitable and less risky than stockers; More total income could be available, for up to 20 years, by transitioning to stockers over several years, as compared to staying in the cow/calf/yearling operation. A producer must consider the time horizon over which they plan to remain in the industry.