Panhandle Perspectives - October 24, 2017

Range Beef Cow Symposium – an experience you can’t get online

These days, beef producers have 24-hour access to any information they need or want without having to leave their property.

Range Beef Cow Symposium logoThey can find how-to demonstrations on YouTube; real-time updates from Twitter feeds; and websites like beef.unl.edu, with everything from current issues to annual research summaries on nutrition, genetics, range management, and other topics.

So why travel to Cheyenne for the Nov. 28-30 Range Beef Cow Symposium?

Because this year’s symposium offers more than two days’ worth of information they cannot get on-line – hands-on demonstrations, enlightening conversations with fellow ranchers, and a chance to fire questions at national experts, according to Dr. Karla Jenkins, UNL Cow-Calf and Range Management Specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff.

Range Beef Cow Symposium takes place the week after Thanksgiving at Little America Resort and Convention Center at Cheyenne. More than 25 speakers will address beef production topics such as nutrition, marketing, health, reproduction, consumer demand and current industry issues.

This year’s event is coordinated by Steve Paisley, University of Wyoming Extension beef cattle specialist and associate professor in the Department of Animal Science in UW’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The symposium begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday and concludes Thursday with a half-day cattle-handling workshop. Additional information such as agenda, registration and lodging is available at Rangebeefcow.com. The site allows online registration with credit cards.

For more information, contact Paisley at 307-837-2000 at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle or spaisley@uwyo.edu.

Jenkins, who also helps plan the event, says organizers are aware that they are competing for people’s attention. And this year’s list of events reflects that realization. “If we’re going to have a meeting, it’s got to have information they can’t get elsewhere,” she said.

“This is the 25th Range Beef Cow Symposium. The first one was in 1969 (they are held every two years), and coming to a conference and listening to people talk was THE way you got information,” she said.

“Today people can get any information they want at any time. If they’re coming in from baling hay at 10 p.m., they can look at YouTube.”

Much of the agenda for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will still consist of speakers, many of whom are national or regional experts in their fields. And one long-standing feature of the Range Beef Cow Symposium will not change – the opportunity to interact with vendors. Symposium organizers left time in the agenda for symposium attendees to visit the more than 80 vendors, which she described as a one-stop shop.

But this time, interactive events, such as meat-cutting demonstrations during breaks between speakers, have been added.

“There’s also the opportunity to interact with fellow producers,” Jenkins said. “That could be another rancher who is doing something that you are considering on your place.”

The popular producer panel also will take place. This year’s panel will focus on long-term practices to survive the drought. The market outlook is another piece of information that will still be on the agenda at the 25th RBCS.

One opportunity for interactive learning is hands-on sessions Thursday morning at Laramie County Community College. There are sessions on body condition scoring, frame scoring, interpreting feed tags, and artificial insemination with ultrasound.

“One thing I find when talking to producers is that they could be more confident in calling a conditioning score,” Jenkins said. That’s critical because producers won’t want to over- or under-supplement rations, she said.

Frame scoring also presents challenges. When an animal is still growing, it’s hard to guess what size it will be, so it’s important to measure, she said.

Plant identification also is important for producers. “Grass isn’t just grass. What are the desirable species?” It’s important to manage range condition and know the effects that grazing is having.

Started in 1969 at Chadron, Neb., and held every other year, the RBCS is organized by the animal science departments of Colorado State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, South Dakota State University and UW.  The event rotates between Colorado, western Nebraska, western South Dakota and Wyoming. 

The event focuses on beef production issues in the western states.