Livestock symposium gives help coming, Dec. 6-7, in 48 sessions


Farmers who weren’t learning what they needed made their own Extension meeting. That proved to be great.

At first, 20 years ago, I knew it as the Kirksville Livestock Symposium. Now as fame and success grew it’s the Missouri Livestock Symposium.

All kinds of farmers from across the state, and adjoining states, come to hear what’s not received elsewhere. This year, it’s Dec. 6-7, starting late Friday and ending Saturday afternoon.

Farmers needed more than what could be provided from the MU Campus. Back in the day, sheep were a big part of farming in the area. But, there wasn’t much sheep help coming from campus. That was one departure point. There were others.

I’m biased, but MU can’t be beat on cutting-edge information on beef production. That fits a lot of Missouri, which has much land suited for cow-calf farms.

We lead the world on beef reproduction technology. Basic and applied research comes from MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. Grazing research, tied closely to cow research, comes from MU Forage System Research Center, Linneus. We don’t lag. We lead.

There’s still lots of farming that MU no longer staffs to teach. That comes back to lack of funds. So, farmers still reach out to other states to bring in specialists. It happens again, this year.

Topics, beside a big focus on beef, includes: Horses, meat goats, forages, stock dogs and farm succession planning. And, oh yes: Sheep. There will be some 48 classes in all. No one can attend them all.

It frustrates me, all of those multi-tracks go at once. While I’m taking notes in the beef track, I want to be down the hall in other meetings.

I pretty much have stuck with beef. In the beginning the overlap of the Symposium start and first research results from Fixed Time Artificial insemination came about the same time.

I want to hear beef meetings again. MU has two new beef specialists, who team up. Eric Bailey, beef nutritionist, tells about feeding. Jordan Thomas, repro specialist, tells about breeding. They work well together. Feeding offers a way to cut costs to grow more beef. Breeding covers adding genetics that boosts income.

Early adopters of research from Thompson Farm found astounding progress in genetics. A while back I read about a Show-Me-Select Heifer farmers. He said, in effect, that an extra $500 per calf makes a big difference. I’d think it would! I’ve heard others say something similar.

There’s lots of potential to boost state ag income with beef herds.

Feeding heifers is an art, with strong science base. Feeding from weaning to breeding differs from feeding from breeding to calving.

Thomas has a PhD including AI breeding and using sexed semen. He urges farmers to track profits. As he says, other industries know income AND costs. Few beef farmers can rank which cows make money, or which ones lose more than they make.

Adding replacement heifers depends on more than looks. Looks are vital, but genomics or  DNA, makes huge impact.

Over years, producers learned they can drive a long way to hear the latest news on their part of farming. Ideas are worth money. Now, its big money as the beef trade pays more for quality beef. Consumers learn differences in Choice over Select beef.

Even small herds benefit from better genetics. Any farm can afford semen from top bulls in a breed.

Oh, yes, there is more. Long ago Extension learned that a free meal attracts. This meeting starts with a beef dinner the first night. Lunch on Saturday, provided by Missouri commodity groups, offers tastes from all on the huge buffet. That’s an education as well.

The meeting is at Mathew Middle School in Kirksville starts at 4 p.m. Friday.

I leave out too much.

The trade show is worth the trip. The  Symposium Chair Garry L. Mathes, a farmer, urges all to come.

It’s free.

That attracts also.


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