Abstract #697

# 697
Management characteristics of cow-calf, stocker, and finishing operations in the North and South Plains.
Senorpe Asem-Hiablie*1, C. Alan Rotz1, Robert C. Stout1, Jasmine A. Dillon2, Kimberly R. Stackhouse-Lawson3, 1USDA-ARS PSWMRU, University Park, PA, 2The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 3National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Centennial, CO.

Regional surveys of cow-calf, stocker, and finishing operations are being conducted nationwide to gather information on cattle, crop, and range management practices needed for a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) of beef production in the United States. The South Plains (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas) and the North Plains (Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota) make up 2 of 7 regions demarcated for the LCA and are the focus of the present study. A total of 633 ranch responses represented 1.4% of the beef cows maintained across both regions, with 0.9 and 2.8% represented in the South and North Plains, respectively. Notable differences in management practices among cow-calf and stocker ranches in both regions were observed. Mean stocking rates decreased from the wetter east to the drier, semi-arid west. In the South Plains, mean stocking rates decreased from 2.4 ha/cow (1.3 ha/stocker) in the east to 15.7 ha/cow (4.6 ha/stocker) in the west and the North Plains reported 2.9 ha/cow (1.9 ha/stocker) in the east and 6.7 ha/cow (4.3 ha/stocker) in the west. Differences in forage management influenced by varying soil morphology and rainfall patterns, showed decreasing fertilizer and lime use from east to west in both regions. A higher percentage of ranches in the North Plains (57%) produced a variety of feed crops including corn and alfalfa to feed cattle compared with 17% in the South Plains. Although the proportion of ranches that harvested rangeland as hay were similar at 42% and 47% in the South and North Plains, respectively, the portion of land harvested was lower in the South (2.5%) than in the North Plains (13%). Responses from 60 feedyards represented 9% of cattle finished in the South Plains, 4% in the North Plains, and 7.5% overall. The primary difference in feedyard management identified across regions and among states was size. Feedyard capacities increased from north to south with the largest located in Texas. The data collected are being used to develop representative operations in each state to serve as basis for a comprehensive national LCA studying the environmental, economic, and social impacts of beef production and to identify opportunities for improvement.

Key Words: beef production, sustainability, life cycle assessment