Ashley K. Edwards
Louisiana’s livestock industries feature a variety of species and diverse sets of producers who care for and raise these animals to provide meat, milk and fiber for consumers. Collaborations between LSU AgCenter extension and research personnel provide essential programming and information for livestock producers to constantly enhance their management strategies in ways that are beneficial to both the environment and the economy.
The past few years have provided added challenges to the beef cattle industry throughout the nation. As the industry has evolved, the need for additional extension programs became apparent, and a handful of new beef cattle extension programs were developed. Foundational extension programs such as the Master Cattleman Program and beef and forage field days continued to teach beef cattle producers best management practices for their herds. The Beginner Cattleman and Advanced Master Cattleman programs were developed to expand upon the Master Cattleman Program and reach producers seeking educational materials based on their experience levels.
Programs such as the Louisiana Producer Artificial Insemination School, Cattle Pregnancy Determination Clinic and Grazing School give beef cattle producers hands-on learning opportunities for improving their management practices. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the launch of the online Beef Brunch Educational series, which provides biweekly news updates and monthly webinars in both video and podcast formats. Finally, the new Geaux Beef Heifer Development Program gives producers the opportunity to maintain their own replacement females and learn management practices to improve development of replacement females on their operations.
Forage production is central to the success of livestock production throughout Louisiana. Forage extension specialists and researchers focus their efforts on identifying forage species and management strategies ideal for each region of the state. In addition, their collaboration with livestock agents and specialists provides opportunities to identify best management practices suitable for the various stages of livestock growth, development and production.
Production of meat and dairy goats within the state has been increasing over the last few years. To meet this need, programs such as the Master Goat Producer and field days have been offered throughout the state. These grant meat and dairy goat producers the opportunity to learn basic and innovative management practices to improve herd performance and production efficiency.
Producer education can begin at an early age, as it does with our 4-H youth. Livestock show projects and programs, such as the new Livestock Ambassadors, train youth in proper animal handling, general production practices, ethics and leadership. The educational experiences gained outside of the classroom through 4-H are vital to the development of future livestock producers and advocates.
LSU AgCenter agents, specialists and researchers continuously strive to bring innovative and proven production practices to livestock producers. For more information on livestock programs, please visit the LSU AgCenter website or reach out to your local extension office.
Ashley K. Edwards is the statewide extension livestock specialist based at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria.
This article appeared in the fall 2022 edition of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.
Ashley K. Edwards feeds cattle in a trough at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria. Photo by Olivia McClure