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Ruminant livestock production in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming is critical to the region's economy. Because of the economic significance of ruminant livestock production, producers in the four-state area are continually looking for opportunities to increase income and improve the viability of their farm and ranch operation. Accordingly, the Four-state Ruminant Consortium, an integrated research and extension program, was created to specifically address issues related to ruminant livestock production. One of the more widely applicable possibilities for adding value through the regions's ruminant livestock sector appears to be backgrounding feeder calves. However, while economic analysis has indicated that stockgrowers in the study area could typically increase their net returns by backgrounding feeder calves, anecdotal evidence suggests relatively few producers are presently backgrounding feeder calves. To identify the socioeconomic impediments inhibiting producers from backgrounding feeder cattle, this study sought to identify managerial, social, and institutional factors that influence and perhaps constrain producers' ability or willingness to background feeder cattle. Study objectives were to identify and document producers' current production and marketing practices as well as identify stock growers' perception of opportunities for and impediments to expansion of the ruminant livestock industry in the study area. A mail questionnaire was delivered to 5,270 livestock producers in 37 counties in the 4-state study area of southwestern North Dakota, northwestern South Dakota, southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming. The questionnaire was designed to solicit a wide variety of information about operators' current production practices, including marketing, backgrounding, retained ownership, herd management, and feed and forage practices. The questionnaire also solicited operators attitudes on a wide variety of issues related to opportunities for and impediments to the expansion of the ruminant livestock industry in the study area as well asking respondents to identify what types of information would be of most interest to them and in what form they would prefer that information be delivered. The questionnaire also collected basic demographic data. Findings from the mail questionnaire are detailed in this report.


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