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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 #391220

Research Project: Adaptive Grazing Management and Decision Support to Enhance Ecosystem Services in the Western Great Plains

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Title: Stocking rate and marketing dates for yearling steers grazing rangelands: Can producers do things differently to increase economic net benefits?

Author
item BALDWIN, TEVYN - University Of Wyoming
item RITTEN, JOHN - University Of Wyoming
item Derner, Justin
item Augustine, David
item Wilmer, Hailey
item WAHLERT, JEFF - Producer
item ANDERSON, STEVE - Producer
item ARISARRI, GONZALO - Rothamsted Research
item Peck, Dannele

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/29/2022
Publication Date: 8/25/2022
Citation: Baldwin, T., Ritten, J.P., Derner, J.D., Augustine, D.J., Wilmer, H.N., Wahlert, J., Anderson, S., Arisarri, G., Peck, D.E. 2022. Stocking rate and marketing dates for yearling steers grazing rangelands: Can producers do things differently to increase economic net benefits?. Rangelands. 44(4):251-257. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2022.04.002.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2022.04.002

Interpretive Summary: Producers grazing yearlings (i.e., stockers) on rangelands deal with both weather and climatic variability, as well as market volatility. As a result, their decision-making about stocking rate and marketing date is highly dynamic and involves complex tradeoffs. The many permutations of stocking rate and marketing date decisions can be overwhelming to many producers. Optimally, producers would have complete flexibility in both stocking rate and marketing date. This would allow producers to adaptively graze yearlings in response to dynamic changes in the forage supply and quality due to weather and climatic variability, and market volatility. We present an evaluation of net returns from yearlings that grazed the shortgrass steppe of Colorado involving nine combinations of three stocking rates (light, moderate, and heavy) and three marketing dates (mid-August, mid-September, and mid-October). The combination of heavy stocking and mid-September marketing generates the highest net return per acre. Lowest net returns per acre was observed for light stocking and a mid-October marketing date. Across all three marketing dates analyzed, heavy stocking rates produced the highest net returns on average, but with substantial economic variability and risk across years, as returns fluctuate widely and unexpectedly.

Technical Abstract: • The combination of stocking rate and marketing date that maximizes average net return per head will not necessarily maximize average net return per hectare. • The combination of stocking rate and marketing date that maximizes average net return per hectare often comes with risk-related tradeoffs, such as a higher risk and magnitude of negative net returns. • The combination of stocking rate and marketing date will have implications (not quantified in this study) for the quantity of standing forage residue, which could be used for fall/winter grazing within the same year or for drought preparedness in the following year.