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MATERNAL NUTRITION MANAGEMENT AND PROFITABILITY OF COW/CALF OPERATION IN SMALL FARMS
Animal production is the main component of agriculture in Wyoming and surrounding states, with cattle and sheep as the dominant livestock. Drought is a recurring meteorological phenomenon in this region, which results in a significant reduction in forage production. Thus, cows and ewes in the Rocky Mountain areas frequently experience nutrient restriction during early to middle gestation, especially protein deficiency, which occurs due to the limited forage available in small farms and ranches, poor forage quality and also nutritional supplement rarely employed in small farms and ranches during this gestation stage. We showed that early to middle gestation is very important for fetal muscle growth. Poor nutrition during this stage results in an offspring with less muscle mass but higher fat content, negative affecting animal production efficiency. Proposed studies aim to solve this impairment of animal performance through protein supplement and assess the profits which cow/calf operators can get from this supplement. By finishing these proposed studies, we will identify the impact of maternal protein supplement during early to middle gestation on the profitability of small farm operation. This knowledge will be directly applied to animal agriculture through extension and education programs in order to ensure efficient meat production through proper nutritional management of flocks and herds of small ranches on the high plains of the West. The successful implement of this study will be important to enhance the profitability of small farm cow/calf operation.