Academics At Expo
Delve Into DNA;
Producers Dig Into
A Steak Lunch, Too
BY BOB HURLEY
"What makes an efficient cow?"
That question was asked several times Thursday at the 2012 Northeast Tennessee Beef Expo at the University of Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center on East Allens Bridge Road.
Rob Ellis, director of the center, and Milton Orr, Greene County Extension Leader, said that 300 beef cattle farmers and other interested persons from throughout Northeast Tennessee were in attendance at the expo.
The subject of "What Makes An Efficient Cow?" was the subject of Dr. Bob Weaber's keynote address following the traditional steak lunch that was served by Andy Seals and others from the Clyde Austin 4-H Training Center.
Dr. Weaber, of Manhattan, Kan., is an extension beef cattle specialist and an assistant professor at Kansas State University, also in Manhattan.
Weaber spoke at length on the importance of feed efficiency and why the beef industry must continue to focus on it.
"Improvement of the economic position of the farm is an ongoing process for many commercial beef producers," Weaber said.
"Profitability may be enhanced by increasing the volume of production and/or the value of products you sell," he added.
He cited how lower production costs also improve profitability, and how "the implementation of technologies and breeding systems improve the competitive position" of beef cattle operations.
A FROSTY BEGINNING
The expo got off to a very early and very chilly opening, beginning with registration at 7:30 a.m.
"We were out here before daylight," Ellis said of the crew responsible for setting up the extensive operations site for the day.
But after the chilly and somewhat frosty beginning, the expo played to more sunshine and blue skies than had been experienced on Greene County farms in several days.
"There was frost all over creation when I came through Del Rio right after daylight," one visitor was overheard to say to a friend in the trade show area of the expo.
AREAS OF FOCUS
The expo featured three main focus areas in lectures that went from 8:40 to 11:10 a.m.:
1) Using DNA for Genetic Testing;
2) Factors That Affect Selling Price of Feeder Cattle, and
3) the University of Tennessee Beef and Forage Center: What Can We Do For You?
Dr. Gary Bates, extension beef cattle specialist and professor of plant sciences at the University of Tennessee, presented the session on UT's Beef and Forage Center.
Dr. Andrew Griffith, professor of agricultural economics at UT, was the lecturer on sessions dealing with factors that affect the selling price of beef cattle.
Dr. Tonya Amen, of St. Joseph, Mo., genetic service director of the American Angus Association, presented the session on genetic testing.
BEEF NO. 1 IN TENNESSEE
Beef cattle operations continue to be the leading agricultural enterprise in Tennessee, with cattle accounting for 18 percent of the state's farm cash receipts for 2010, the last year for which numbers are available from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Soybeans, which are favored on farms with large acreages in West Tennessee, hold second place in the state's farm cash receipts category, with 17 percent, while broilers are third at 15 percent.
In his presentations about the Beef and Forage Center at UT, Dr. Bates emphasized that researchers and educators at UT are dedicated to the task of helping producers become more sustainable in every aspect of their operations.
"The cattle industry is consistently one of the most important components of agriculture in Tennessee," Bates said.
"Income, acreage used, and the number of producers involved all show the value of the livestock industry in our state," he added.
BEEF INDUSTRY ON THE RISE
In news releases issued prior to Thursday's expo, Chuck Denney, director of communications for the UT Institute of Agriculture, said that the number of beef cattle operations has increased by 300 percent during the past half-century.
"That's why events such as the beef expo are known for their good attendance," Denney said during Thursday's events.
"We need to be doing all that we can to enhance and expand an industry that is very, very important for a lot of folks in Tennessee."