Adoption of Technology, Management Practices, and Production Systems by U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Producers

Article excerpt

Using USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey data, factors leading to the adoption of technology, management practices, and production systems by U.S. beef cow-calf producers are analyzed. Binary logit regression models are used to determine impacts of vertical integration; region of the U.S.; farm size, diversification, and tenure; and demographics on adoption decisions. Significant differences were found in adoption rates by region of the U.S., degree of vertical integration, and size of operation, suggesting the presence of economies of size and vertical economies of scope. Results also indicate high degrees of complementarity among technologies, management practices, and production systems.

Key Words: cattle, cow-calf, management practices, production systems, technology adoption

JEL Classifications: D21, Q12, Q16

A variety of technologies, management practices, and production systems (TMPPS) have been available for adoption by U.S. cow-calf producers, most for extended periods such that few are truly "new." Some have been recommended by extension services and/or the USDA, with advisement usually focused on profitabili ty/ productivity and, in some cases, natural resource conservation. We analyze the adoption of 12 widely available cow-calf TMPPS, categorizing them into four groups: production technologies, services, production systems, and recordkeeping and information technologies. A better understanding of TMPPS adoption provides research and extension personnel with information as to how to improve program targeting and researchers and stakeholders with insights leading to a better understanding of national industry structure trends and differences among regions, segments, and enterprises.

The objectives of this study are to determine the factors leading to TMPPS adoption in the U.S. cow-calf sector and to determine the degree of complementarity of adoption among these TMPPS. We draw on data from the 2008 Phase III cow-calf version of the USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). This study builds on cow-calf TMPPS adoption studies such as Gillespie, Kim, and Paudel (2007), Popp, Faminow, and Parsch (1999), and Ward et al. (2008) by expanding their statelevel analyses to the national level and exploring complementarity among TMPPS. We begin by discussing each TMPPS, proceed by discussing previous TMPPS adoption studies and our analytical framework, and then provide the results and discussion.

Cow-Calf Production Technologies, Management Practices, and Production Systems

The TMPPS we consider include implants and/or ionophores, artificial insemination, embryo transfer and/or sexed semen, regularly scheduled veterinary services, use of a nutritionist, forage testing, rotational grazing, use of a calving season, animal identification, individual cow/calf recordkeeping, computer recordkeeping, and Internet use. These TMPPS were chosen based on their current or potential importance to the cowcalf sector and inclusion in the 2008 ARMS cow-calf survey. Some are likely technically interdependent (i.e., embryo transfer and artificial insemination), whereas others may not be (i.e., ionophores and rotational grazing), where technical interdependence refers to the adoption of one TMPPS impacting the marginal productivity of another. The large number of TMPPS allows us to explore tendencies of adopters of one TMPPS to adopt all others irrespective of technical interdependence. The 12 TMPPS examined in this study are described subsequently under the categories of technologies, services, production systems, and recordkeeping and information technologies.


The use of ionophores and growth-promoting implants in the cattle industry can increase feed efficiency and average daily gains (Horn, 2006; Lawrence and !barbimi, 2007). Ionophore use in the cow-calf segment has not been determined, but in 1999, ionophores were used in 93% of U.S. feedlots (U. …