A comprehensive life cycle assessment of the beef value chain in the United States is being conducted to provide benchmarks and identify opportunities for improvement. Region-specific data are being collected to accurately characterize cattle production practices. This study reports production information obtained via surveys and on-site visits from 2 of 7 regions: the Northwest (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming) and the Southwest (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah). Responses from ranches (defined as primarily grazing operations) included herd sizes ranging up to 28,500 cows and in total represented 3% of beef cows maintained in both regions according to inventories of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Feedlot responses included operations ranging in capacities from 30 to 150,000 cattle and in total represented 33 and 19% of cattle finished in the Northwest and Southwest, respectively. Management information collected also included stocking rates; feed production and use; housing facilities; BW; diets; and machinery, energy, and labor use. Few differences in management were found between the 2 regions due primarily to the relatively dry conditions prevailing across much of the western United States. Stocking rates were relatively low in both regions, and more feed crops were grown on operations in the Northwest. In the Southwest, there was a trend toward smaller ranches (<100 cows) and more Holstein cattle were finished due to the large numbers of cull calves available from the dairy industry. Information gathered provides insights into management characteristics needed for modeling and evaluating production systems and conducting a comprehensive life cycle assessment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology