Economic Based Decision Support to Promote Sustainable Livestock Enterprises

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2010: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Grant Recipient: Purdue University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Joan Fulton
Purdue University

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep, poultry
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, new enterprise development, risk management, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    Small scale livestock enterprises can be profitable ventures that are advantageous for the sustainability and benefit of rural communities. Individuals looking to begin an agricultural endeavor, whether full- or part-time, or existing farmers and ranchers looking to diversify, can find value in small scale livestock operations. This analysis will consist of quantitative and qualitative measures of different livestock enterprises such as start up costs, acreage, labor, and expertise needed. The research will assist people looking to begin an agricultural endeavor to select the enterprise best suited for their situation, thereby increasing the likelihood of success. Uniquely this project will not only look at the profitability of enterprises, but aid in decision making through materials such as the Comparative Decision Support Matrix which is based on the resources available to the individual to ensure sustainability of the undertaking. Existing farmers and ranchers looking to diversify their operations can apply the findings to determine the enterprise that complements their unique circumstances, thereby enhancing rural livelihoods through improved profitability.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives of this research are to: (1) evaluate the economic returns to and business opportunities for alternative sustainable livestock enterprises and (2) develop a decision support tool for farmers and ranchers who are considering a new livestock enterprise to diversify an existing operation or for individuals looking to enter the livestock sector on a small scale.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.