Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Popp, Michael

Committee Member/Reader

Kemper, Nathan

Committee Member/Second Reader

Nalley, Lanier


The third most consumed meat around the world is beef. Despite global growth in demand, cattle markets experience price cycles related to biological production lags causing variability in cash flow and profitability for producers. Price-driven herd size management strategies thus have received attention. This study adds to that literature by analyzing both price and production risk using three herd size management strategies: i) steady state – holding herd size constant; ii) dollar cost averaging – keeping reinvestment constant by varying the number of replacement heifers retained at a constant long run average dollar total; and iii) moving average – using an uptrend/downtrend price signal to lower/increase production in anticipation of future price declines/increases. These strategies are evaluated over the most recent 2004-2014 cattle cycle based on their relative profitability and risk with and without forage variability as a result of weather simulation on forage yields. This analysis is useful for decision makers of medium- to large-scale cow-calf operations. Results suggest that price signal-based strategies can enhance profitability but the managerial cost required for this type of herd size management is deemed larger than its benefit.


Cow-calf production, cattle price cycle, cattle herd management, dollar cost averaging


Special thanks to Dr. Michael Popp for his countless hours of guidance and assisstance in completing this research. Also, special thanks to Dr. Lanier Nalley and Dr. Nathan Kemper for serving on my committee.