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Focus on economics to help guide sustainability

By Wesley Moore
M.S., Beef Technical Supervisor, Cargill Animal Nutrition

A wise economics professor once told me, “Price or monetary value is simply a reflection of resources – or the scarcity of resources – used to produce it.” If we think of sustainability in this manner, focusing on economic sustainability should help us make sound decisions in effectively utilizing environmental and social resources. 

We look at measures and metrics on a daily basis that directly correlate with both economic and environmental sustainability. For example, the difference between a 90% calf crop and 75% calf crop on a 10-cow operation would be 15 calves. If these calves average 500 pounds, there was another 75 pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed to breeding. Optimizing performance improves profitability and leads to sustainable beef production.  

Sustainability is core to efficient nutrition as well. Whether it be the importance of forage utilization in a cow-calf operation or feed efficiency in the feedlot, every segment is motivated to produce more beef using less feed, land and water.  

Sustainability in nutrition programs includes sampling on-farm forages and improving how forages are stored and utilized. In addition, non-forage nutrient sources like byproducts can be advantageous in ruminant animals. Also, implants, ionophores and dewormers are technologies that can easily provide another 100 pounds of finished weight on a steer with no additional use of feed or water.  

By striving to make improvements in performance and become more profitable, we are directly reducing the resources required to produce a pound of beef.    

Editor’s Note: To read the full article on how economics can guide your sustainability, click here