Main content area

Economic viability of lime-treated corn stover in finishing beef cattle diets

Opgrand, Jeffrey J., Widmar, Nicole J., Tyner, Wallace E.
The Professional animal scientists 2017 v.33 no.1 pp. 73-84
beef cattle, cattle feeding, cattle feeds, corn, corn stover, economic sustainability, economic valuation, environmental assessment, environmental impact, feed prices, feed rations, feedlots, finishing, leaching, magnesium, nitrates, slurries, social benefit, soil erosion
Corn stover treated with a lime slurry has the potential to reduce feed costs for finishing feedlot cattle. Feed rations including lime-treated corn stover were profitable compared with the control rations for all scenarios investigated. The average annual increase in returns per feedlot space on a beef cattle feedlot operation when lime-treated corn stover was included in the rations of finishing cattle was $40.82 per feedlot space, with a range of increased returns of $7 to $90 per feedlot space depending on feed price assumptions. The range of corn prices tested was $118.10 to $196.84/Mg, and the range of corn stover prices tested was $38.58 to $60.63/dry Mg. Environmental impacts studied were soil erosion, changes in soil organic carbon, and nitrate leaching. Data from the Landscape Environmental Assessment Framework were used to quantify the environmental impacts resulting from the ration substitutions. Incorporation of environmental values with the economic results affects social values and can lead to negative social outcomes in some cases. Detrimental environmental impacts increase as the level of corn stover harvest increases, and the incorporation of environmental values to the on-farm economic values of the feed substitutions can affect the social outcome of the feed substitution.