2015 Livestock Impact Reports Back »

Drier than normal conditions in the Western and Southwestern US could mean some shifting of agricultural land base to the Upper Midwest. When combined with increased pressure on water reserves and land base this could negatively impact our state’s agriculture. Less than optimum moisture also means less water replenished yearly in the state’s underground reserves. All this is happening while discussing the need to increase food production. It is estimated that by 2050 the planet will reach 9.1 billion people, 34 percent more than today. South Dakota needs to consolidate itself as one of the “food hubs” of the country. With more than 19 million acres of cropland and 23 million acres of rangeland, agriculture contributes $20.9 billion yearly positioning the state in an ideal situation to accomplish this. Rather than choosing to view ourselves as the smallest Land Grant institution, SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources views itself as the most efficient contributor to US food security per capita. As a result we have prioritized programming of profitable, highly productive systems that lead to societal stability and are at worst environmentally neutral.


During 2014 cattle production suffered a more or less generalized nationwide retraction. South Dakota was seventh in the country in cattle and calves on farms trailing closely Iowa and Missouri. Then again, when cattle and calves on farms are considered per capita South Dakota leads the country with roughly 4.3 animals per person. The economic impact of the livestock industry in South Dakota is very significant. When rounding figures the respective sectors bring close to the following amounts in billion dollars: beef $2.8, pork $2.2, dairy $1.3. Sheep is also significant to the state and brings $57 million. SDSU Extension livestock programs have concentrated mainly on beef, dairy and sheep. The table above shows the economic impact for South Dakota per animal of each livestock species.


BeefSD was one of several programmatic activities conducted by SDSU Extension that have supported the local cattle industry.

Several programmatic activities conducted by SDSU Extension have supported the local cattle industry. BeefSD for example acted as catalyst matching cattle with land owners with mutual benefits for families and the state overall. This program led to the development of an informal self-directed learning community of peers, mentors and professionals which develop mid-term business goals in marketing. Annie’s Project is a statewide program for women focused on the five areas of risk management. Through pre and post evaluations and informal contact the course is tailored by feedback to improve delivery and curriculum and meet participant needs. The Northern States Beef Conference was another successful program conducted during 2014. The program attracted an audience that didn’t use SDSU Extension services before. The average cow/calf herd represented in that meeting was three times larger than the average beef herd size in SD. This new generation of producers need specialized information and value the combined new technology with traditional phone and face-to-face contacts.

Ag CEO is another SDSU Extension key program, with 56.5% of recent participants stating they increased production and financial record keeping. Almost 83% analyzed their farm/ranch to where they wanted to be in production practices and size, financial position, and natural resources and conservation. Created by SDSU Extension after a 2005 Needs Assessment Sustaining the Legacy was identified as a top education need both for agronomy and livestock producers, and continues to be offered. One novel 2014 program grassroots-initiated was the Dry lot beef cow/calf production systems. Small group meetings led to a one-day conference held in Mitchell. 140 plus people attending.

Dairy Extension

The I-29 Dairy Outreach Consortium is a learning community that features collaboration from SD, MN, IA, & ND Extension experts. The "Boots on the Farm Heifer Growers Tour” provided producers with the opportunity to learn about automated technology in raising dairy heifers.

Dairy Extension expanded the scope of research, and acted as liaison between SDSU and the dairy farmer. This has been accomplished through programs, articles, and one-on-one visits conducted by Specialists, through the I-29 Dairy Outreach Consortium. This consortium of Universities is a learning community with collaboration from SD, MN, IA, & ND Extension Personnel and the SW Minnesota Dairy Profit Group, Western IA Dairy Alliance, Midwest Dairy Association, and SD Dairy Producers. Activities conducted during 2014 included the “Boots on the Farm Heifer Growers Tour” which provided producers, heifer growers and the dairy industry, the opportunity to learn from others who effectively utilize automated technology in raising dairy heifers. One other program was the “Raising Your Best Calf Ever Workshops” offered December 2014. With producers and industry representatives in attendance, along with I-29 Dairy Outreach Consortium members this workshop gave participants thorough knowledge on robotic footbaths, ventilation, building designs, using automatic calf feeders and manure management/lagoon liners.


Sheep SD was a very successful program of 2014 SDSU Extension ANR. Programming was driven by producer’s recommendations, interests, and needs; topics are initiated by SheepSD participants and then agreed upon by the group. The program has become critical for lenders to work with producers and develop reasonable sheep enterprise budgets. It was also instrumental in developing a National loan program through the National Livestock Producers Association –Sheep and Goat fund to finance beginning sheep producers unable to get financing. Sheep SD worked closely with SD Dept. of Agriculture and SD Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' to inform producers of practices, certifications, organizations that can improve predator control. Sheep producers have sought this programming to improve their lamb and wool products. In cooperation with industry, training in Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) development (similar to EPDs in beef cattle). With SDSU Extension support the program was instrumental in developing wool quality data collection and improvement, and educating producers on responsibilities to meet the goals of the “Industry Road Map” to improve American lamb quality, consistency, promotion and availability.

Impact Reports

Access the links below to view a complete impact report for each topic:

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