Beef Cattle Conference Crowd

There were 163 cattle ranchers, UF/IFAS faculty, and industry professionals that attended the 2024 Northwest Florida Beef Cattle Conference & Trade Show, held in Marianna, on February 14, 2024. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS


Beef Cattle Conference logoThe 2024 Northwest Florida Beef Cattle Conference & Trade Show was held in Marianna, Florida on February 14th.  There were five educational presentations and a trade show with 22 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 2024 conference was “Calculated Investment to Add Value to Your Beef Herd.”   All five presentations focused on improving income by improving cattle herd and pasture performance and ultimately the end product sales value.  The following are links to printer friendly versions of the presentations that were provided. (Use the blue text links to view each presentation).

2024 Cattle and Input Market Outlook

2024 Inventory & Calf Prices Chart

Hannah Baker, UF/IFAS Beef Cattle & Forage Economics Specialized Agent, shared a summary of recent data from multiple reports that show the US Cattle Herd was still shrinking at the end of 2023, and the positive impact that will likely have on cattle prices in 2024 and 2025.  She also shared data from reports on input costs expected for 2024.  While the size of the US Beef Cow Herd will cause reduced supply and higher prices, Hannah encouraged ranchers to still keep a close eye on managing input costs.

1 -Baker 2024 Cattle and Input Market Outlook

In addition to her presentation, Hannah also provided a summary document handout with discussion about the data she shared in her presentation:  Baker January 2024 Cattle Market Update

Investing in the Genetic Potential of Your Herd

Genetic Investment

Darrh Bullock, Cattle Genetics Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky provided a presentation on investing in beef herd genetics.  Cow-calf producers primarily improve the genetic quality of their herds through breeding bull selection.  Dr. Bullock discussed the foundation of a selecting a bull to improve your herd, and spent most of his allotted time discussing the use of EPDs and the value of using genomically enhanced EPDs which provide higher accuracy for for bulls that have yet to sire calves.  He also provided a unique comparison of human DNA testing with those test used for cattle to help people understand this relatively new science.

2 – Bullock Genetic Investment in Your Cattle Herd

Adding Value to Weaned Calves

Adding Value to Weaned Calves

Kalyn Waters, UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County, discussed adding value to weaned calves prior to marketing.  She focused on two primary areas that are not new but are not being fully utilized by small to medium sized ranches in the U.S.  She shared data that showed why bull calves are discounted so heavily at livestock auctions.  Kalyn also discussed the use of growth implants in pre-weaned calves and the weight gain they can add.  She also provided research data that showed the implanted and castrated steer calves have superior performance before and after weaning.  Utilizing these two practices together allows producers to add value to their bull calves no matter what marketing system is utilized.

3 -Waters Adding Value to Weaned Calves

Adding Value to Your Herd through Beef Sales

Freezer Beef Sales OptionsDean Pringle, Center Director, North Florida Research and Education Center, discussed the opportunities cow-calf producers have to increase the income generated by their herd through beef sales.  He shared the options that ranchers have to sell freezer beef to local consumers and the value of those animals fed on the farm after weaning.  This niche market has grown significantly since the COVID19 Pandemic, increasing the demand for local meat processing. Developing a good relationship with local meat processor is a key step for any cow-calf producer looking to enter the beef business.  Dr. Pringle was not at all suggesting that every calf or cow produced in the region could be sold as freezer beef, but simply that there are opportunities to develop small businesses to provide locally produced beef in the Panhandle.  He also provided a nice overview of Florida regulations for direct to consumer sales.

4 – Pringle Adding Value through Beef Sales

Investing in Pasture Productivity

Investing in Pasture ProductivityMark Mauldin, UF/IFAS Extension Washington County, challenged cow-calf producers to consider improving the productivity of their pastures.  He focused on three basic areas that have been somewhat neglected with high costs in the past few years.  Soil fertility, especially pH, nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) were the primary focus of the first part of his presentation.  He also discussed considering improving grazing management with cross-fencing and animal rotation to allow forages to rest in between grazing periods.  The final part of his presentation focused on weed control and the challenge of invasive weedy grasses.

5 – Mauldin Investing in Pasture Productivity

In addition to the presentations, there was a Trade Show of 22 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.

Trade Show Sponsors

Special thanks to the sponsors that made this meeting possible.  I have contact information for every one of the representatives in the Trade Show, so let me know if you would like to make contact with any of the following organization representatives.

24 Trade Show list

I would also like to thank the Jackson County Cattlemen’s “Cooking Crew” for marinating and grilling the steaks for lunch, and the UF/IFAS Extension Staff that served up all of those lunches in short order.

Lunch Serving crew

Mark your calendar and make plans to attend the 40th annual Beef Cattle Conference & Trade Show.  We will review the suggestions on this year’s exit surveys and build another strong lineup of speakers and sponsors for next year’s event.

Wednesday, February 12, 2025!

Doug Mayo
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