Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Applied Economics

Committee Chair(s)

Dillon Feuz


Dillon Feuz


Dale Zobell


Donald Snyder


With the price of corn now over $6 per bushel, and with feedlot total cost per pound of gain now approaching $1.00 per pound of gain there are new incentives to try and add weight to calves outside of feedlots. The question then arises of how to add weight to a calf in the most economical manner. There are many different feeding programs to consider. However, with few exceptions, the cheapest way to add weight outside of a feedlot usually involves the calf grazing for an extended period of time. Winter pasture grazing, wheat pasture grazing and corn stalk grazing followed by summer pasture grazing are examples of these programs.

However, with the exception of California, most of the area west of the Great Plains lacks the resources and climate for most of these winter grazing programs. For those states, cattle producers can background calves through the winter and then allow them to graze pastures in the summer. Backgrounding calves is essentially taking calves at weaning and feeding them to heavier weights without placing them directly in a feedlot on a finishing ration.

The overall objective of this research is to evaluate the level and variability of returns to several background feeding alternatives. The returns will be evaluated in an expected value-variance analysis and ranked using stochastic dominance procedures.

It appears that there are several different background alternatives that producers could utilize to increase returns with an acceptable level of risk and add additional value to their calves.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 11, 2011.