The University of Arizona

Breed and stocking rate effects on Chihuahuan Desert cattle production.

J.A. Winder, C.C. Bailey, M. Thomas, J. Holechek


Productivity of Barzona, Brangus, and Beefmaster cattle was evaluated on conservatively (n=2) (40 ha AU-1) and moderately (28.5 ha AU-1) stocked pastures (n=2) in the Chihuahuan Desert of south-central New Mexico. Equivalent numbers of suckled, first-calf heifers of each breed (n=31) weighing 333+/-11 kg were randomly assigned to the study pastures in the spring of 1992. Pastures were grazed continuously and herd productivity data were collected from 1992-1994. In late August 1994, all pastures were destocked due to onset of severe drought. No effect of breed (P>0.10) was detected in the analyses, so data were pooled across breeds and compared between the stocking rates. Calf crop percentages (1993, 1994) were higher in conservative than moderate stocked pastures (82 vs 62%, respectively, P<0.01). Financial analyses standardized to a hypothetical medium size (8,094 ha) New Mexico Chihuahuan Desert cattle range showed net returns per ha did not differ (P>0.10) between stocking rates. However, the main effect of year and stocking rate X year interaction were significant (p<0.05). These analyses suggest that the drought in 1994 lowered returns per ha compared to 1993 when precipitation was near average and that conservative stocking may present less financial risk than moderate stocking when drought occurs. These data are consistent with other studies from arid and semi-arid rangelands demonstrating that conservative stocking can give financial returns from cattle production equal to or greater than those from moderate stocking.



cattle breeds;pregnancy rate;farm income;livestock numbers;weaning weight;arid grasslands;arid zones;production costs;calves;continuous grazing;body weight;rain;Brangus;Beefmaster;barzona;stocking rate;breed differences;beef cows;shrubs;botanical composition;New Mexico;beef cattle

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