Grazing methods and stocking rates for direct-seeded alfalfa pastures: III. Economics of alternative stocking rates for alfalfa pastures

Wachenheim, C.J.; Black, J.R.; Schlegel, M.L.; Rust, S.R.

Journal of Animal Science 78(8): 2209-2214


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-8812
PMID: 10947110
DOI: 10.2527/2000.7882209x
Accession: 003458982

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A framework that permits estimation of economically optimal stocking rates for alternative economic parameters and alfalfa forage allowance was developed and applied to a controlled grazing experiment conducted with Holstein steers (243 kg) placed on direct-seeded alfalfa pastures in central Michigan, USA. Responses of ADG to alternative levels of forage allowance (FA) were summarized by a quadratic function and the associated gains/hectare were calculated. The standard stocking rate (SSR; standard livestock units/ha) that maximized gain/hectare increased with FA and was greater than that which maximized ADG. Net returns to fixed resources (NRFR)/hectare were calculated for alternative SSR and economically optimal SSR were identified under various levels of herbage mass (kg/d). The SSR that maximized NRFR were between the SSR that maximized ADG and gain/hectare. Magnitude of the sale price discount for heavier calves, the slide, influenced the optimal SSR and the sensitivity of net return to SSR. The economically optimal SSR increased as the slide increased because animals stocked under higher SSR weighed less off pasture and therefore received a lower price discount. (For Parts 1 and 2 see pp. 2192-2201 and 2202-2208 of this issue of the journal.).