Comparison of Economic and Animal Performance of Dairy Heifers in Feedlot and Pasture-Based Systems

M. Rudstrom, D. Johnson, Michael H Reese, A. Singh, Hugh Chester-Jones, R. Imdieke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Commercial custom heifer growing is an emerging industry in the U.S. With the industry growth comes an interest in pasture-based systems for raising dairy heifers as an alternative to traditional feedlots. Questions about animal performance and costs associated with converting cropland to pastures must be addressed. A 3-yr replicated trial on a commercial, custom dairy growing operation compared animal performance and economics of feedlot vs pasture-based systems for raising dairy heifers. The ADG on the pasture system ranged from 0.90 to 0.93 kg per head compared with 0.91 to 0.95 kg per head in the feedlot. The pasture-based system had fewer costs, averaging $0.99/d per head compared with $1.28/d per head over the 3 yr. Productive cropland converted from a corn-soybean-alfalfa hay rotation to pasture was used to graze dairy heifers. Returns from dairy heifers exceeded returns for corn and soybeans in each of the 3 yr and exceeded alfalfa hay returns in 2 of the 3 yr. Heifers returned an average of $268/ha over the 3 yr. The next greatest crop return was alfalfa hay at $225/ha. Heifer returns were greater than corn and soybeans in each year, even when government payments were included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalProfessional Animal Scientist
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2005 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists

Keywords

  • Dairy Heifers
  • Management Intensive Rotational Grazing

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