Range Beef Cow Symposium returns to western Nebraska Nov. 29-Dec. 1 | TSLN.com

Range Beef Cow Symposium returns to western Nebraska Nov. 29-Dec. 1

David Ostdiek, Communications Specialist, Panhandle Research and Extension Center

The Range Beef Cow Symposium will return to western Nebraska in 2011 for the first time in eight years, and it is expected to attract a sizeable herd of cattle producers from Nebraska and surrounding states.

The Range Beef Cow Symposium XXII is scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Mitchell Events Center at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds. Evening “Bullpen” sessions will be held the first two days at the Gering Civic Center.

The biannual event is sponsored by Extension programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Colorado State University, the University of Wyoming, and South Dakota State University. The event rotates among the four states. The previous site was Casper, WY, in 2009. Western Nebraska last hosted it in 2003.

“Positioning the range beef herd for the next 25 years,” will be the theme, according to Dr. Karla Jenkins, cow-calf and range management specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center. She said a planning committee made up of beef-management specialists from the four universities has been working for several months.

Jenkins said 700 to 900 people usually attend the Range Beef Cow Symposium, coming from the four sponsor states as well as several adjoining states in cow-calf country, such as Montana and Kansas.

Some of the key issues facing producers are commodity prices, the cow inventory and its effects, and global factors’ effects on markets.

Recommended Stories For You

“Clearly no one knows the future,” she said. “You can’t say this is what’ll happen and this is what you need to do, but we want to look at some factors and some things that are likely to affect producers in the next 25 years, and things we can do to position and sustain ourselves.”

Some of those long-range, sustainability issues that will be on the agenda:

• Generational transfer and land ownership issues.

• Labor solutions: Finding and retaining qualified employees as the rural labor pool shrinks and high-school graduates increasingly move off the home place.

• Adding value to calves by claiming premium prices available for animals that are source verified, preconditioned, or otherwise desirable to buyers. Cow-calf operators are good at producing animals of consistently high quality, but getting the best price also may require proper advertising, completing necessary paperwork and persistence, Jenkins noted.

• Calculating unit costs of production: Knowing costs for each segment of a ranch operation, and where to reduce costs or expand to increase profits.

The agenda will also include traditional topics such as nutrition, reproduction, genetics and range management. The first two days will end with evening “Bullpen” sessions, in which speakers from daytime sessions are featured in panels. Conference attendees can ask specific questions on topics the speakers may have covered earlier in the day.

The symposium will be a tremendous opportunity for western Nebraska feedlot operators to showcase their operations, Jenkins said. She’s encouraging area lots to join the other vendors at the symposium. It’s an opportunity to acquaint producers from a large geographic area with area feedlots, whether they plan to retain ownership of their calves or sell them to feedlots. The symposium is an excellent opportunity to build relationships with producers, Jenkins said.

“We want to make sure they know that we have some good feedlots in the area and they do a really nice job of finishing cattle out.”

In addition to the speakers, vendors from various segments of the livestock industry will have displays set up at the symposium: breed associations, feed companies, pharmaceutical providers and equipment manufacturers. This provides producers with a good opportunity to learn what products and services are available, but also to have easy access to experts on issues and problems that interest them.

“Vendors really make this event affordable for the ranchers,” she said. “They pay for a booth to set up, and that helps provide the program at an affordable cost to ranchers.”

Online registration, a list of motels, information for vendors and other symposium information will be available at a Web site, http://www.rangebeefcow.com. The Web site is in the process of being updated for the 2011 symposium, and will list new information as it becomes available.