Extensive systems of beef production capitalize on land resources that cannot be effectively used in crop production. Precipitation is often sparse on such lands, which limits forage production and, ultimately, beef production per unit area of land. This in turn limits the number of management interventions that are cost-effective in the production system. In addition to the limited production capacity of the natural resource base typically used for extensive beef production systems, both the quantity and the quality of forage produced tend to be highly and sometimes unpredictably variable over time and space. This variation encourages inclusion of various risk management strategies in designing successful management systems to be employed in extensive beef production. Exploiting heterosis and additive breed differences through crossbreeding facilitates achieving an optimal level of beef production. Matching biological type of the cow to the environment is important in managing risk and ensuring optimal levels of animal performance, given constraints imposed by the natural resource.

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