Research Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 2, P132-138, April 2006

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Production Alternatives for Market Beef Cow Value Enhancement

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      Forty-eight market beef cows were assigned to short-term production strategies for value addition. Treatments were confinement feeding (FDL), blue grama pasture + mineral supplement (normal control; NC); NC + 926 g/d 38% CP supplement (PRO), or NC + 1,726 g/d 20% CP supplement (ENR). Cow initial body condition score and BW were used as co-variates and orthogonal contrasts were used to compare FDL vs. pasture treatments, NC vs. (PRO + ENR)/2, and PRO vs. ENR. Over the 49-d period, FDL resulted in greater BW gain than pasture treatments (P < 0.01). Supplementation tended to improve gain (P = 0.19), with little difference among supplements (P = 0.98). Weight gains were 98, 4, 10 and 10 (SE = 3.8) kg/cow for FDL, NC, ENR and PRO, respectively. Final body condition scores were 6.0, 4.3, 4.5 and 4.5 (SE = 0.04) for FDL, NC, ENR and PRO, respectively. Final condition was greater for FDL than pastured cows (P < 0.01), and for supplemented vs. NC (P < 0.01). Production responses resulted in differences in gross revenue, with FDL generating the most revenue (P < 0.01), NC tending to receive less than PRO and ENR (P = 0.14), and ENR tending to receive more than PRO (P = 0.12). Net returns ($/cow) were 52, 26, 15, and 15 (SE = 7.9) for FDL, NC, ENR and PRO, respectively. Net returns to FDL were greatest (P < 0.01); returns to NC were numerically higher than supplemented groups (P = 0.23), and PRO and ENR were similar (P = 0.99). Productivity and profits were maximized with intensive management of market cows. Cost management is critical for profitability of low-input strategies.

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