Purdue News

March 4, 2005

'Beef 101' gives southern beef producers tips of the trade

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Some beef producers continually struggle, and others always seem to turn a profit.

Ken Salkeld, a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service Educator in Jennings County, said for many southeastern Indiana producers, the difference is in management techniques.

"Many times individual management styles and knowledge of cattle anatomy can make the difference in whether or not you make a profit in the beef industry," Salkeld said.

Salkeld and several other Extension educators are teaming up to offer "Beef 101," a seven-week course about basic beef herd management for producers in southeastern Indiana. Classes begin March 21 and run through May 2. Registration costs are $50 per individual or $75 for two people from the same family or operation. Producers can register at their local Purdue Extension office or by calling the Purdue Extension office in Jennings County at (812) 352-3033. Registration deadline is March 11

All classes will take place at Southeastern Purdue Ag Center near Butlerville, Ind., from 6:30-9:30 p.m. EST.

Class topics include nutrition, body frame scoring, hay quality, selecting and managing of heifers and bulls, treating and preventing calving problems, medications and vaccines, pasture management, and marketing.

Even experienced producers can take something away from the class, Salkeld said.

"I had a gentleman who took the class a couple of years ago, and when it was over he said, 'I've been working with cattle for 40 years, and I've learned more in the past seven weeks than I learned in all those years.'"

Sometimes the class even surprises a few people.

"I've taken samples of hay, had them analyzed, and then asked producers to determine which sample is the best by their normal methods," Salkeld said. "People are often surprised by the results of the tests, but the numbers don't lie."

What usually happens is that older, worse looking alfalfa clover hay has more nutrition than newer, greener orchard grass or fescue hay, he said.

Chris Leibering, a beef producer in Spencer County, has attended "Beef 101" every time it's been offered. Leibering and Sons Farm has about 150 head of cattle and is in the process of expanding its herd.

"I've been to three classes, and I would go again," Leibering said. "The information is valuable. There's nothing that stays stationary in the cattle business, and it seems like those who lead the class always have new ideas. I'll go to the class again if I can fit it in my schedule."

Salkeld said Leibering is a good example of the continued opportunities producers get from "Beef 101."

"If you've paid for the course once, you're invited to come back and sit in on any class," Salkeld said. This gives producers a chance to brush up on management techniques in following years.

The "Beef 101" classes are a cooperative venture between southeastern Indiana Extension educators and Purdue's Department of Animal Sciences and School of Veterinary Medicine.

Writer: Kay Hagen, (765) 494-6682, kjh@purdue.edu

Sources: Ken Salkeld, (812) 352-3033, ksalkeld@purdue.edu

Chris Leibering, (812) 544-2523, cleiber@psci.net

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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