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Cow-Calf Operations in the Southeastern United States: An Analysis of Farm Characteristics and Production Risks


  • Adkins, Tracey S.
  • Riley, John Michael
  • Little, Randall D.
  • Coatney, Kalyn T.


Beef cattle production in the southeastern United States differs in size, practice, and production type from other U.S. regions. Smaller, cow-calf type operations dominate in this region because the climate, forage availability, and other land use practices of farmers make this type of cattle operation more ideal for the Southeast. Cow-calf production, particularly small-herd enterprises, does not typically require the level of intense management compared to other beef operations, thus making it more manageable for those with limited time and labor. This research summarizes the current practices and characteristics that define the Southeastern cow-calf operation as it operates under the new challenges of today’s market and operating environment; it also examines the factors that influence the variability of beef production in these operations. Results are gathered from functioning cattle ranches in the Southeast. This research provides an empirical definition of beef cattle operations in the southeastern U.S. and compares cattle operations in the Southeast to other regions of the country. It also examines factors of cattle production and the practices that affect that production. Results of the analysis indicate the following major points: 1.) Only 53% of all respondents that owned commercial cows have fewer than 50 head and almost 73% of respondents with cattle have seedstock operations with fewer than 50 head. 2.) Older calves weigh more at weaning and the variability around the mean tends to widen as calves get older. 3.) Seedstock producers, likely due to the genetic nature of a purebred herd, produce calves that wean at higher weights than those crossbred calves that are typical of cow-calf operations. 4.) Operators that are financially invested in their operation, through the amount of income they receive and the amount of financial investment they have made, seem to be more attentive to the outcome of their production process.

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  • Adkins, Tracey S. & Riley, John Michael & Little, Randall D. & Coatney, Kalyn T., 2012. "Cow-Calf Operations in the Southeastern United States: An Analysis of Farm Characteristics and Production Risks," 2012 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2012, Birmingham, Alabama 119757, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:saea12:119757

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    1. Little, Randall D. & Forrest, Charlie S. & Lacy, R. Curt, 2000. "Cattle Producer Attitudes Towards Alternative Production And Marketing Practices," Research reports 15792, Mississippi State University, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    2. Ramsey, Ruslyn & Doye, Damona G. & Ward, Clement E. & McGrann, James M. & Falconer, Lawrence L. & Bevers, Stanley J., 2005. "Factors Affecting Beef Cow-Herd Costs, Production, and Profits," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 37(01), April.
    3. McBride, William D. & Mathews, Kenneth H., Jr., 2011. "The Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms," Economic Information Bulletin 102764, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    cow-calf; cattle production; triangular distributions; Agribusiness; Livestock Production/Industries; Production Economics;

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