Bettering Beef Cow Efficiency
The measure of output per level of input is perhaps the greatest single factor affecting your profitability as a beef producer. Whether marketing or feed prices are high or low, your efficiency as a producer determines whether you make a profit or a loss.
Health status, culling rates, reproductive efficiency, management restrictions, genetics and feeding practices are all factors that affect beef cow efficiency. And, there’s the end product value to consider. Increasing biological efficiency can be antagonistic with economic efficiency if the end product doesn’t match customer needs.
Michigan State’s Harlan Ritchie notes in The Search for the Elusive Optimum Cow that 71% of total dietary energy expenditure is used for maintenance, and 70% of that amount is directed toward maintaining the herd. Half the energy used in beef production is fed to the cow herd just to maintain it. Making that cow more biologically efficient can help.
C.P. Mathis and J.E. Sawyer point out in Beef Cow Efficiency in the Southwest, that “efficiency is the optimum use of resources toward a sustainable level of production.” The New Mexico State University Extension specialists make the point that you can’t just maximize output and minimize input to be efficient long-term.
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