Economic Research Report No. (ERR-321) 40 pp

July 2023

Structure, Management Practices, and Production Costs of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms

The cow-calf segment of the U.S. beef industry is diverse in farm size, structure, and location, with farms located in every State and ranging from very small to very large. Modest structural change has occurred in this segment over the past two decades, resulting in moderately fewer farms that produce more animals and are more specialized in cow-calf production. This report compares cow-calf farms by region, farm size, phases of beef production that are present on the farm, and farm typology using the cow-calf version of the 2018 USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Larger scale cow-calf farms were found in the Northern Plains and West regions, whereas smaller scale farms tended to be located in the Southeast and Southern Plains regions. Larger scale cow-calf farms had lower economic costs per cow and tended to adopt advanced technologies, management practices, and production systems at greater rates than smaller farms.

Keywords: Beef cow-calf production, farm income, Agricultural Resource Management Survey, management practices, cow-calf operation structure, advanced technologies

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