Using conjoint analysis to assess values of animal traits in the Manitoba beef cattle industry

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Sy, Hamath Alassane.
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The purpose of this study was to estimate values that producers of beef cattle attach to animal attributes and compare these values across different segments of the industry, purebred breeders -- cow-calf operators and feeders. The study focused on beef producers in Manitoba. A survey instrument was developed and sent to producers in rural Manitoba. Participants were asked to rate a set of hypothetical bulls and steers. Information on respondent profiles also was collected. Data from the survey were analyzed using conjoint analysis. Results of the analysis indicated that producers across all segments have higher preferences for calving ease, weaning weight, and milking ability than for carcass yield and feed efficiency of bull offspring. In addition, temperament, slaughter weight, weaning weight and feed efficiency of steers were very important attributes to producers. Carcass yield and muscling, on the other hand, were important steer attributes to producers. Comparing the partworth values of animal attributes across different producer groups, revealed that cow-calf operators attached high values to calving ease and temperament while purebred breeders placed high values on weaning weight and milking ability. Feeders, on the other hand, had high values for slaughter weight and feed efficiency. These results suggested that producers at different levels of the beef production system have different partworth values for the same animal attributes. The implication of these findings is that the beef industry is very heterogenous in terms not only of products but also of preferences.