Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agriculture and Extension Education

Major Professor

Robert S. Dotson

Committee Members

Cecil E. Carter, Haley Jamison



This study was conducted in Knox County, Tennessee for the purpose of determining selected characteristics of beef producers and their farms. The study was based on a survey-type interview and reflects information for developing a county plan of action. The producers were interviewed and then classified in low, medium and high groups, depending on the number of pounds of beef sold per cow in 1970. Main comparisons were between high and low categories.

Major findings indicated that cattlemen interviewed in Knox County had the following characteristics: (1) 71 percent were considered friendly toward the survey; (2) 52 percent were part-time farmers; (3) only 11 percent gave beef as their major source of income; (4) average educational level was 13.5 years; (5) over 65 percent of Knox County beef producers were over 55 years of age; (6) farms averaged 214.2 acres with 141.,3 acres cropland; (7) the average number of cows kept was 47.8; and (8) 60 percent of all farmers had some registered cows.

When comparing the average high and low producers it was found the high producer: (1) had a slightly higher educational level; (2) had fewer cows; (3) had a smaller farm, and (4) more frequently was a part-time farmer.

Implications were drawn from the findings concerning their relevance for the Knox County Agricultural Extension Program.


The purpose of this portion of the Knox County survey was to determine which recommended beef production practices were being used by cattlemen in the county. Thirty-five beef producers were interviewed at random and comparative analysis made in reference to pounds of beef sold in 1970 per cow bred.

Ratings were given each cattleman on each of 31 management practices studied. Average ratings for all practices were computed as a basis for further comparison.

Findings reveal the following regarding management practices: (1) the management level averaged by the high producers was considerably above that of the low producer; and (2) high producers rated higher on 25 of the 31 practices. All producers were "using" other recommended practices, including: (1) waiting until replacement heifers were at least 15 months of age and had attained a minimum weight of 650 pounds before breeding; (2) checking older cows at least once a day during calving season; (3) arranging to have competent help available when calving difficulties occurred; (4) following recommended practices in dehorning and castration; (5) keeping cows on good permanent pasture sod until late fall and early winter to reduce winter feed costs; (6) following recommended fly control practices; and (7) getting the advice of professionals in the area of beef production and marketing. In addition, the high producers were "using" the following practices: (1) providing access to a recommended mineral mixture for all cattle; (2) keeping replacement heifers separate from rest of breeding herd during winter; (3) following recommended lice control practices; and (4) checking cattle for possible trouble at least three times per week throughout the year.

Other comparisons showed that high producers were doing a better jobthan low in: (1) keeping bulls whose records met minimum requirements of the breeder's performance tested bull sale; (2) using one or more performance tested bulls; (3) checking herd cows at least once a day during breeding season; (4) identifying each breeding female; (5) checking first calf heifers at least two or three times daily during calving season;(6) identifying calves; (7) feeding thin cows and those that have calved better than others; (8) feeding supplement to brood cows; (9) using recommended grub control; and (10) maintaining an adequate system of working pens, lots and restraining equipment.

The high producers reported a calving percentage of 91.3 compared to 82.3 for the low producers. Only 14 percent of all producers (26 percent of the high and none of the low) had sold any calves in organized feeder sales. The stockyard was mentioned most often as the market place. Fifty percent of the low producers sold calves at the farm. The high producers sold heavier calves at a higher price per pound.

Other implications from the study were drawn and educational use of the data recommended.


This study was designed to identify some factors influencing beef producers of Knox County to adopt recommended practices. The thirty-five randomly selected beef producers were interviewed and divided into high, medium and low production groups according to pounds of beef sold in 1970 per cow bred.

Of the things most liked about beef cattle production, the "joy of raising cattle" and "efficient utilization of pastures" were most often mentioned. Other reasons given were: (1) "less labor requirements"; (2) "challenge to produce better animals"; (3) and "supplemental income." The most often mentioned dislike was the problem relating to animal health.

Of all persons from who advice was sought, neighbors or friends, county agents, local veternarians, and cattle buyers were most used. Ninety-one percent of the high producers listed county agents as their main source of information, as compared to 86 percent of the low producers. Sources of additional information included farm magazines and University of Tennessee bulletins or publications.

These findings, together with those from the two prior related studies, indicate a basis for development of a useful educational plan for cow-calf producers in Knox County, Tennessee.


Problem submitted in lieu of thesis. Major is listed as Agricultural Economics.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."