Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

Document Type



This dissertation research consists of three essays. The first two studies analyze experimental research data based on three pasture systems for grass-fed beef (GFB) production in the Gulf Coast Region. System 1 included bermudagrass and ryegrass; System 2 included bermudagrass, ryegrass, rye, dallisgrass, and clover mixtures (red, white, and berseem clovers); and System 3 included bermudagrass, soybean, sorghum sudan hybrid, ryegrass, rye, dallisgrass, and clover mixtures (red, white, and berseem clovers). Fifty-four Fall-born steers were weaned in May and grouped into nine groups and randomly blocked into treatments and replicates. Inputs and output data were recorded on a daily basis. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in terms of CO2 equivalent emissions from each system were estimated based on the experimental data and literature for the first three years (2009/10 to 2011/12). For the first essay, the three pasture systems were analyzed to maximize the profitability and sustainability of grass-fed beef production. The simplest grazing system yielded higher profit than the most complex, but the most complex system produced the lowest greenhouse gas impact. A trade-off was found between profitability and GHG impact among the systems. In the second essay, the same three pasture systems were analyzed for labor use and profitability based on five years of experimental data (2009/10 to 2011/12). System 1 was more profitable as well as more labor consuming. Systems 1 and 2 were more profitable than System 3 with or without including the labor expenses. Application of simulation and dominance techniques showed that decision makers would choose between Systems 1 and 2 based on their risk preferences. The third essay analyzes the technical efficiency of grass-fed beef farms in the U.S. The study is based on a cost and return survey conducted in 2013. The average technical efficiency of grass-fed beef production was found to be 76%. Technical efficiency is positively affected by farm specialization, and percentage share of grass-fed beef meat in GFB income and negatively impacted by off-farm income and owning cow-calf segment. Increasing return to scale was found in GFB production and larger-scale farms were found to have lower average costs than smaller-scale farms.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Gillespie, Jeffrey