Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Economics and Finance

Department name when degree awarded


Committee Chair(s)

Darwin B. Nielsen


Darwin B. Nielsen


The question of which sex of cattle to feed is a basic economic decision which must be made by feeders. An economic analysis of costs and returns associated with feeding steers in comparison to heifers would give feeders some assistance in making this decision.

The objectives of this study were to make an economic analysis of feeding a pen of steers and a pen of heifers in a feedlot, then determine the break- even prices for feeder cattle which would make the feeder indifferent to whether he fed steers or heifers , and finally to develop a decision model that could be used by feeders to evaluate this decision for their feedlots.

Steers gain faster and more economically than do heifers . Steers, however, must be fed from 40 to 60 days longer in order to reach the quality standards of the choice grade. Steers reach the market at heavier weights both as fat cattle and carcasses. On the other hand heifers sell for less per pound as feeders and finish earlier in the feedlot.

A graphical decision model was derived which will a id any given feedlot manager in making the decision of which sex would return more profit. This model allows one to plot the break- even prices and price spreads of feeder steers and heifers . The current market prices of feeder cattle on any given day can be compared to the model , and a decision made as to which sex is most profitable.

The break-even spread in feeder cattle prices between steers and heifers gets wider as the price of feeder cattle increases. This explains the wide spread when feeder cattle are selling around 38-40 cents per pound.



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