Proceedings

PR – Should Small Farms Raise Their Own Replacement Heifers?

In the southern Great Plains of the United States of America, farmers are trying to determine the most profitable way to restock their cow herds after the droughts that have occurred since 2003. During this time, farmers reduced their herds by nineteen percent. In 2003, this seven state area, the southern Great Plains, contained forty percent of the United States’ cow herd. This paper addresses the questions relative to the profitability of a small farm raising their own replacement heifers to expand their existing cow herds. Given the resources of small farms; if a portion of the resources are used for raising replacement females, does it add or subtract from the overall financial wellbeing of the whole farm? In addition, estimates are derived for the cost of farms to create their own replacement females based on when heifers have their calves and the number of cows in a specific herd. Published data from the Kansas Farm Management Association was used to create enterprise budgets and graphs depicting the profitability of heifer retention for different sized cow herds. The results show that a small farmer using their finite resources towards internal expansion does not increase their overall farm profitability. These results show that it is more cost-effective for small farms to purchase their replacement females from larger ranches who have economies of scale, regarding replacement heifer production.

Keywords: replacement heifers, small farms, profitability

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Author(s): Alkire, D.O., Springer, J.D.

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Organizations(s): The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, Oklahoma