Document Type


Publication Date

July 2013


Extension service, beef cattle, beginning ranchers, beginning producers


The average age of beef producers in the USis 58 and increasing. A need exists to increase theopportunity and success for the next generation of beefcattle producers. Extension at SDSU and South DakotaFarm Bureau Federation partnered to address this byproviding a 3-year educational program that assistedbeginning beef cow-calf ranchers in South Dakota tobecome economically, ecologically, and sociallysustainable producers. The goal was to present a curriculumthat contributed to future agricultural production, landstewardship, and rural community viability. The learningobjectives were to provide: (1) evaluation of alternativeproduction systems, (2) an integrated understanding of theentire US beef cattle industry, and (3) development ofindividual cattle enterprise plans. The target audience was agroup of 30 beginning beef cattle enterprises represented by43 individuals (several couples and a pair of brothersparticipated). The curriculum was comprised of six majorkinds of activities: (1) instructional workshops, (2) casestudies of established successful producers using a varietyof production systems and management practices, (3)evaluation of post-weaning performance of participants’calves, (4) mentoring from established beef ranchers andother industry professionals, (5) web-based interaction, and(6) travel study trips to learn about other segments of thebeef cattle industry. Outcomes of the program wereevaluated using surveys of the participants beginning at 12months into the program and thereafter at 6-monthintervals. Responses were primarily open-ended writtenanswers, lending themselves to qualitative analysis.Responses indicated that meaningful outcomes haveoccurred. For example, when asked the impact of theprogram on their operation, one producer indicated: “I justhad to tell you guys that our net worth has increased by$37,000. If we can continue to be diligent we can eitherkeep 30+ bred heifers or operate on our own money by theend of the year.” Other participants reported comparableimpacts. In conclusion, the beefSD program has beensuccessful at fostering positive outcomes for the beginningproducer participants.


This was originally published in Proceedings, Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science held on July 25-27, 2014 in San Angelo, Texas. Copyright © 2014 American Society of Animal Science.