Conventional wisdom among rangeland professionals has been that for long-term sustainability of grazing livestock operations, rangeland should be kept in high good to low excellent range condition. Our objective was to analyze production parameters, costs, returns, and profit using data generated over a 34-yr period (1969–2002) from grazing a Clayey range site in the mixed-grass prairie of western South Dakota with variable stocking rates to maintain pastures in low–fair, good, and excellent range condition classes. Cattle weights were measured at turnout and at the end of the grazing season. Gross income · ha−1 was the product of gain · ha−1 and price. Prices were based on historical National Agricultural Statistics Services feeder cattle prices. Annual variable costs were estimated using a yearling cattle budget developed by South Dakota State University agricultural economists. All economic values were adjusted to a constant dollar using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index. Stocking rate, average daily gain, total gain, net profit, gross revenue, and annual costs · ha−1 varied among range condition classes. Net income for low–fair range condition ($27.61 · ha−1) and good range condition ($29.43 · ha−1) were not different, but both were greater than excellent range condition ($23.01 · ha−1). Over the life of the study, real profit (adjusted for inflation) steadily increased for the low–fair and good treatments, whereas it remained level for the excellent treatment. Neither drought nor wet springs impacted profit differently for the three treatments. These results support generally observed rancher behavior regarding range condition: to maintain their rangeland in lower range condition than would be recommended by rangeland professionals. Ecosystem goods and services of increasing interest to society and associated with high range condition, such as floristic diversity, hydrologic function, and some species of wildlife, come at an opportunity cost to the rancher.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 63 • No. 2