Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Larry Johnson


Four different grazing systems: two rotational, a continuous, and a high-intensity, short-duration (mob) system, replicated twice, were evaluated from an economic perspective. Mob grazing is defined as a system having very high stocking rates for a small amount of time. Livestock are forced to eat or trample the vegetation. Stocking rates and average daily gains (ADG) were collected from the UNL Barta Brothers ranch near Rose, Nebraska. The study started in 2011 and lasted until 2014. Using the performance data and other cost data relevant to South Dakota and Nebraska, budgets were set up for each system and extrapolated to a quarter section (160) of rangeland. Profitability of each system, which was measured as returns to labor and management, was found for each replication. Next, Simetar© was used to determine the risk in each system and rank the systems according to risk preferences. These risk preferences were used to find a risk premium, the amount a producer would need to be indifferent between two systems. Finally, a sensitivity analysis ranked each system against a baseline when the system experiences decreases in cattle performance. Some important results are as follows: 1) the rotational grazing system in which cattle pass through each paddock twice (4-PR-2) had the highest returns to labor and management, 2) the mob grazing system was the least preferred system per acre when risk was not considered, 3) when risk aversion increases, mob grazing becomes the third xiii preferred system per acre, 4) a risk neutral producer would need a risk premium of $22.92-$79.84 per animal or $32.43-$132.96 an acre to switch to mob grazing, 5) if ADG decreases by 5% from the baseline system (4-PR-2) the continuous system is the most preferred system per animal and per acre. An implication of this study is that even though mob grazing was the least profitable system the potential for profitability was present. The system 4-PR-2, which had the next highest number of moves, had the greatest returns to labor and management. Therefore, a mob system could be profitable with adjustments to maintain animal performance.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Grazing -- Economic aspects -- South Dakota
Grazing -- Economic aspects -- Nebraska
Range management.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 120-125)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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