Of UT Stresses
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
From calf to mature cow and back again, beef producers from the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee learned Thursday about lean practices and methods for marketing improvement in every step of the beef cattle process.
The annual Northeast Tennessee Beef Expo at the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on East Allens Bridge Road brought in about 250 regional members of the beef industry, according to Center Director Rob Ellis.
He described the day's seminars as designed to benefit all beef-producers, from those who are just getting started all the way to "long-timers" who have been in the industry for 40 to 50 years.
UT PRESIDENT EMERITUS
The event capped off a full morning of seminars with a noon steak luncheon featuring special guest Dr. Joe Johnson, UT's president emeritus, followed by a keynote address on "Replacement Heifer Development" by Kevin Thompson, center director of the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center.
In an interview just prior to Dr. Johnson's address, he reflected on his time with the university and the importance of the agricultural community for the university.
"I learned that at the very heart of the university was serving the agricultural community throughout the state," he said.
"How well we serve the people of Tennessee through those has a whole lot to do with how people think about the University of Tennessee."
Johnson said he hoped listeners would take away two things from his message -- the importance of the beef industry to the state and what UT is doing to aid them in the process.
"It's an industry which has more agricultural sales than any other product in Tennessee. I want to let these people who are in the business know how important they are to our agricultural economy and to our total economy," Johnson said.
As Thompson took over the day's presentation, he emphasized replacement heifers and their proper development as "the most important foundation in a beef cattle operation."
The Middle Tennessee Center director defined this as a 40-month process from the time the farmer begins planning for breeding through the development of the replacement heifer and its calving.
During this time, the animal results in zero profit and considerable expense to a farm operation, Thompson said.
Vital to maintaining profitability is to keep replacement heifers a beneficial part of the stock for at least five years, he stated.
Thompson provided six key elements for obtaining that profitability: birth date, the need to fit genetics to an operation, nutrition, program management, reproductive management, and calving management.
Dr. Emmit L. Rawls, UT professor emeritus, served as moderator for the day's events.
Other sessions included:
* "How to Select for Good Feet and Legs in Beef Cattle," with Dr. Van Amstel;
* "Beef Cattle Reproduction 101: Making a Calf," with Dr. F. Neal Schrick and Dr. Lannett Edwards;
* "Beef Cow-Calf Herd Health Calendar," with Dr. Mark Caldwell;
* "Utilizing Feedstuffs from the Distilling Industry," with Dr. Jeffrey Lehmkuhler, of the University of Kentucky; and,
* "East Tennessee Beef Marketing Opportunities," with Extension Area Specialist David Bilderback.
As the county with the most cattle in Tennessee, the beef industry has a clear importance in Greene County, but the same is true for Upper East Tennessee as a whole, Ellis said.
"When you look at our topography, the way the land lays, the grass that we have -- it's very suited for grazing cattle. So [the beef industry] is very important to Greene County and to the region as well," he noted.
"We're trying to give our producers information that will improve their bottom line. Hence, the topics: marketing, health.
"The healthier animals you have, the better calves you're going to have. The better calves you have, the more money you're going to make."
The day's events were a joint effort of the university's research department at the center and the department that disseminates information, the UT Extension Office.
Greene County's UT Extension director, Milton Orr, said the day is about those "little things" that producers can do improve their profits.
"Our goal is to make producers aware of the things -- some of them are small things -- that will add value to the product that they sell," Orr said.