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Interpretive Summary: Evaluation of biological and economic efficiency of the All Heifer, No Cow beef production system using a system dynamics model based on 6 yr of demonstration herd data

By Anne Zinn

There has been an increasing demand for more efficiently produced beef, leading to a reduction in grain and water use and greenhouse gas emissions. The All Heifer, No Cow (AHNC) beef production system, which involves insemination of nulliparous heifers with female sex-selected semen to produce primarily female calves, may be a viable strategy to improve biological and economic efficiency of beef production, but previous research has either been focused only on individual animal efficiency or theoretical.

A paper recently published in the Journal of Animal Science evaluated the biological and economic efficiency of the AHNC beef production system using a system dynamics model based on 6 years of demonstration herd data. To begin, the research team built a dynamic model of an AHNC beef production system using data collected from an AHNC demonstration herd to quantify system biological and economic efficiency. The objectives of the research were to compare effects of utilizing female sex-selected semen vs. conventional semen on biological and economic efficiency and to evaluate what-if scenarios to determine the effects on biological and economic efficiency of changing variables from initial observed values.

After 40 simulation runs, it was concluded that under the parameterization and market conditions, the AHNC beef production system under both scenarios failed to achieve profitability under any scenario that was evaluated. It appeared that biological and economic efficiencies were possibly correlated, indicating a producer could select the most biologically efficient system without negatively impacting profit margins. It was suggested that further research be conducted to evaluate more complex relationships between variables in the model and to compare biological and economic efficiency of the AHNC beef production system to conventional cow/calf-based beef production.

The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science website.