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Abstract

Contract grazing is compared with retained ownership of cattle using two frameworks-decision theory and portfolio analysis. The study area is West Virginia. Contracting is optimal under a wide range of price and weather scenarios and decision criteria. It also dominates other alternatives based on labor efficiency measures. The optimal portfolio consists of contract grazing and pasture rental, with the results insensitive to small changes in contract grazing returns. The decision theory and portfolio analyses are complementary; together, the two sets of results provide a comprehensive view of the optimal production alternative. Because different agents employ different decision criteria, this approach can increase the utility of results to decision makers and contribute to better decisions.

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