Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Luther H. Keller

Committee Members

Joe A. Martin, Larry L. Bauer, C.S. Hobbs


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects that alternative beef cattle finishing systems have on farm income potential and resource utilization in three distinct agricultural areas of Tennessee. Study areas included the Southern Plateau Slope, the Central Basin, and the Cumberland Plateau. In each area, alternative situations considered were: 1-, 2-, and 3-man year labor supplies; Small (100 acres of openland), Medium (250 acres of openland), and Large (600 acres of openland) size farms; and charges of 6, 9, and 12 percent for annual capital.

Results from 304 groups of cattle fed in trials conducted by several agricultural experiment stations were used to derive empirical estimates for corn grain and corn silage relationships as inputs for beef steer and heifer rations. These relationships were used to structure the steer and heifer budgets for the main analysis.

Linear programming techniques were utilized to maximize farm income to land, labor, and management in each given resource situation with and without the inclusion of alternative beef finishing systems. Predominant ration components included various combinations of corn silage, corn grain, and pasture forage. Income differentials obtained were used as indicators of the potential contribution by beef feeding to farm income in each of the resource situations considered.

When all capital was charged at a rate of 6 percent, the inclusion of beef feeding resulted in an increase in maximum potential income (ranging from $6 to $3,338, $461 to $2,091, and $242 to $3,026, respectively) on Small and Medium size farms of the Southern Plateau Slope and the Central Basin, and on all farm sizes in the Cumberland Plateau. The percentage and absolute improvements in farm income potential increased as the farm size increased in the Cumberland Plateau Area. In all resource situations of the primary analyses, increases in income potential were a result of feeding beef heifers. A special analysis which considered only beef steers indicated that feeding beef steers would increase farm income potential, but to a lesser degree than would feeding beef heifers.

Increasing the charge for annual capital above 6 percent had a significant effect on the income potential of beef heifer feeding. Increasing the size of the labor supply on a given size farm generally resulted in a larger absolute, but a smaller proportionate increases in income when beef heifers were fed.

Beef heifer feeding had a varied effect on the utilization of available land, but consistently reduced the proportion of labor which was unused. With one exception, excess labor was available between October 1 and February 28 in the optimal farming systems developed for the various resource situations considered.

Finishing of beef heifers using com silage as the primary ration component was the primary beef system included in the optimal analysis on the smaller farms. Beef heifer feeding utilizing a system which included a phase of pasture plus supplemental grain was most effective in increasing the potential incomes of Large size farms with rather limited labor supplies. Beef heifer feeding with corn grain as the predominant ration component was advantageous in only a few of the farm resource situations studied. A beef feeding system with a pasture only phase did not appear in any of the optimum solutions obtained in this study.

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