K-State beef scientists have offered the state's cattle feeders a college experience -- for free! Since 2009, about 400 Kansas cattlemen have attended the Cattle Feeders College in southwest Kansas.
PHOTO: Feedlot maintenance crews learn welding techniques at the Beef Cattle College.
Training Meets Commercial Cattle Feeder Needs
An evening event that offers a steak dinner and training for feedlot crews, managers, and human resource personnel at no cost to the participants sounds like a tall order, but that's exactly what K-State’s Cattle Feeders College offers.
Justin Waggoner, beef systems specialist serving southwest Kansas, puts together a comprehensive program that benefits all aspects of the feedlot business.
More than 225 attended the inaugural 2010 events in Cimarron and Sublette. In 2011, more than 175 people — representing 23 feed yards with more than 940,000 head of one-time feeding capacity — attended the cattle colleges in Larned or Sublette.
For many participants, it was their first exposure to K-State Research and Extension. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service lists Haskell County, where Sublette is located, with the largest inventory of cattle on feed, with 320,000 head.
Feeding cattle is big business in Kansas, with 100 of its nearly 150 feedyards operating in western Kansas. Of the 2,400,000 cattle on feed in Kansas, 69.5 percent or 1,669,200 head were reported on feed in western Kansas.
"Time is very valuable in this industry," said Waggoner. "We cover as much as we possibly can in about four hours. The program offers information for everyone involved in the day-to-day operation of a commercial feeding facility in one program."
The event was divided into three simultaneous sessions for managers and human resources personnel, milling and maintenance crews, and cattle crews. The topics covered effectively managing runoff and applying it to farmland, horsemanship, low stress animal-handling techniques, feed mixer technology and maintenance, and a welding session conducted by Garden City Community College.
Safety for the cattle and workers is a major factor in all the presentations.
Chris Burris, manager of Ward Feed Yard in Larned, provided the cattle used in the animal-handling session at Larned. He attended the human resources sessions, and about a dozen of his employees participated in the human resources or horsemanship and cattle-handling events.
Chris Reinhardt, K-State feedlot specialist, led a panel discussion on managing and guiding leaders in your organization.
"Every speaker on the panel discussion was good," said Burris. "The whole program was very relevant. My employees said they took home information they could use and appreciated having the hands-on demonstrations — actually watching new techniques being used."
Siddartha Torres, a K-State Ph.D. student from Mexico City, was on hand at the Sublette session to offer real-time Spanish translation for the participants in the cattle crew and milling and maintenance sessions.
Industry sponsors cover all expenses, making it possible to offer the event at no charge. Merck Animal Health funded the speakers and program, and representatives from Walco and Lallemand Animal Nutrition provided the dinner.
"K-State does a good job pulling together the program," said Chance Morrow, Merck Animal Health sales representative for southwest Kansas, who attended both sessions. "It offers information on multiple levels that can be used every day."