Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Stocker systems used throughout the Southern United States are part of a value added industry. They consist of different combinations of animal and plant resources used to achieve a common goal of harvesting solar energy, which has been captured through photosynthesis, and converting the energy and plant N into a product that has more value than the sum of the raw components. Since animals are more mobile than plant material, each year millions of young ruminants are relocated from their origin of birth to another area to take advantage of forage produced in that area under different climatic conditions. The quantity of forage available for grazing and the impact of climatic conditions on animal nutrient requirements are more variable than the quality of the forage resource to meet the stocker system. The inability of the forage resource to meet the animal's nutrient needs challenges human management to alter the forage resource base, provide supplemental nutrients or to find animal resources that better fit the existing forage resource base. Genetic makeup and previous management of stockers can significantly impact growth rate, efficient of gain and body composition during both the stocker and finish phases of production as well as grazing behavior. However, in the final analysis the producers will have to utilize the most economically sustainable stocker system even if it is not the most biologically efficient combination of animal and plant components.