Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

John P. Workman


John P. Workman


Fee Busby


Darwin B. Nielsen


The high feed grain prices of the last few years and the resulting high prices for heavy feeder cattle relative to lightweight feeder calves may provide economic incentives to market cattle from rangelands as yearlings. A majority of the economic studies investigating the profitability of retained ownership of beef calves to sell as yearlings have used a budgeting technique to compare a straight cow-yearling operation retaining all calves, to a straight cow-calf operation selling all calves. In this study linear programming was used to develop an optimum combination of various livestock marketing alternatives for maximizing net ranch income.

Two typical Utah ranch sizes (150 and 300 head of brood cows) were modeled and optimum range livestock marketing schemes were developed using linear programming analysis. Based on average Utah cattle prices for 1970-1975 the optimum range livestock management alternatives for both ranch sizes in terms of maximizing net ranch income was to reduce the cow herd 25

percent and use the released feed resources to retain all steer calves for sale as yearlings. Retention of heifer calves was not profitable and they were sold a t weaning . Net ranch income for the optimum strategy was only slightly higher than the income of the base cow-calf ope ration for the small ranch. The large ranch showed a larger gal.n in net ranch income from retention of yearlings . The capital requirement of the optimum strategies was three to five percent less than for the base cow-calf operations.

A reduction in the size of the breeding herd to accommodate retained yearlings would result in a reduction in the number of feeder livestock marketed. Potential decreases in U. S. beef production from 1 to 4 percent were estimated if 25-100 percent of the ranchers in the 11 western states adopted the optimum management alternative. These reductions would result in an increase in the price of beef in the U. S. of 1 to 6 percent.



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