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Abstract

In 1995 and 1996, prices for weaned calves were at the lowest point for the current cattle market cycle. The National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) Beef ,97 Study examined the effects of the down market on beef cow-calf herd management practices. Most producers did not alter management practices in response to the down market. Among producers who made changes, costs were cut largely in the area of herd health management. Specific management practices in which costs were cut included decreases in use of vaccinations (7.4% of operations), herd medications (7.7% of operations), individual cow medications (5.0% of operations), and veterinary services (14.1% of operations). Other ways that producers altered management practices in response to the down market included increased culling of cows (20.9% of operations) and increased retention of more calves into other segments of the beef industry (17.5%). While health management costs are simple to reduce in the short term, the effects may include a decrease in future production resulting from an increase in infectious diseases as well as increased costs associated with treating sick animals. One way to reduce costs without risking herd health is the careful analysis of herd nutrition to determine whether there are areas that can be reduced. Contact for this paper: Stephen Ott

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