The 2023 Northwest Florida Beef Cattle Conference & Trade Show was held in Marianna, Florida on February 8th. There were five educational presentations and a trade show with 25 booths with representatives who provided information about products and services for cattle producers. The event concluded with wonderful grilled steak lunch prepared by the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association’s famous “Cooking Crew.”
Many of the participants at the event were interested in copies of the presentations that were provided, so this article provides access to the information that was shared at the conference. The focus of the 2023 conference was “Improving Performance and Income of Cow-Calf Herds.” All five presentations focused on improving profitability to take advantage of expected improved cattle prices in 2023 and beyond. The following are links to printer friendly versions of the presentations that were provided. (Use the blue text links to view each presentation).
Opportunities to Increasing Income from Your Herd
The first presentation featured a brief economic outlook followed by a discussion of options to increase herd efficiency and income. Kacey Aukema, UF/IFAS Extension Walton County, shared expectations for cattle prices and input costs for the upcoming year. The slide shown above provides a comparison of recent feeder calf prices to the futures market feeder cattle prices in the months ahead. He also discussed opportunities to improve efficiency through soil testing and calving season management as well as options that add value to weaned calves. Use the following link to review his entire presentation.
1 – Aukema 2023 Opportunities for Herd Income
Cattle Herd Health – Disease Challenges for Cow-Calf Herds
Disease prevention is a huge component of managing herd health. Che Trejo, Merck Technical Services Veterinarian, was the keynote speaker who provided a dynamic presentation on major disease issues in today’s cattle industry. The slide shown compares the impact of calves vaccinated for Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) with modified live (MLV) vaccines to those with killed vaccines. Calves from both groups still got sick, but the MLV provided better protection. In addition to BRD, Trejo also discussed the impact of Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) on cow herds. Both of these diseases cause significant losses in the cattle industry. .
2 – Trejo Cattle Disease Management
(Merck does not allow distribution of employee presentations)
Cattle Herd Health – Herd Nutrition Management
Nutrition plays a key role in protecting the function of the immune system, so maintaining a balanced diet is key for the overall health and performance of a cattle herd. Kim Mullenix, Alabama Extension Beef Systems Specialist, explained this connection between herd health and nutrition. In the slide shown above, she discussed the changes in nutrient requirements for breeding cows in the herd through the year. You can see the highest needs are with the first three months after calving. Good herd health relies on a solid nutrition plan for the herd throughout the year. Mullenix’s shared a great quote Dr. Bob Carson, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, that relates to what happens when winter cowherd nutrition is not adequate. “December shakes them, January breaks them, and February takes them!” Use the following link to review her entire presentation.
3 – Mullenix Cattle Herd Health – Herd Nutrition Management
Forage Fertility to Improve Herd Nutrition
The biggest player in cowherd nutrition is forage quantity and quality. Cheryl Mackowiak, UF/IFAS Forage Soil Scientist, discussed pasture fertilization. Fertilizer has gotten much more expensive, but it is still vitally important for forage production and quality. In the slide above, Mackowiak shared a comparison of bahigrass roots from a research trial comparing complete fertilizer versus nitrogen (N) only options. Without potassium (K) you can see the root system was greatly affected. In her presentation she touched on a variety of topics that shared the importance soil health and fertilization, as well as a summary of a multi-year on-farm study of bahiargass pasture decline from nutrient depletion. Use the following link to review her entire presentation.
4 – Mackowiak Forage Fertility
Bull Selection to Enhance the Performance of Your Herd
The final presentation focused on another key area of herd performance, bull selection. Mark Mauldin, UF/IFAS Extension Washington County, discussed genetic selection tools that are available to help ranchers select the bulls that most fit their goals before purchasing. The slide shown above summarizes how the investment in bulls with higher genetic potential pays dividends through higher income from the herd. There are a number of tools that have been developed to aid purchasing decisions. Using thee tools ranchers can select bulls that boost growth performance of weaned calves. Use the following link to review his entire presentation.
5 – Mauldin Investing in Bull Genetics
In addition to the presentations, there was a Trade Show of 25 businesses and organizations that provide goods and services to support cattle production in the Tri-State Region. The following were a few photos from the Trade Show.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association for preparing and grilling the steaks, and the Jackson County Junior Cattlemen and Extension Service Staff for serving the lunches. A great meeting was topped off by an excellent steak lunch for everyone who participated in the event.
Save the date and make plans to attend the 39th annual Beef Cattle Conference to be held on Wednesday, February 14, 2024!
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