Programs Provide Cattlemen With Tools and Knowledge to Be Proficient in Best Practices

Ashley Edwards, Pousson, Bradley, Granger, Andrew L., Faulk, Lee, Dutile, Stanley J., Holmes, Jason E., Deshotel, Vincent, Hay, Gary M.

Ashley K. Edwards, Vince Deshotel, Jason E. Holmes, A. Lee Faulk, Andrew Granger, Stan Dutile, Bradley Pousson and Gary M. Hay

Beef cattle producers constantly strive to improve the efficiency and economic viability of their operations. To do so, they seek educational opportunities that offer practical management strategies that can be implemented within their individual herds. The LSU AgCenter strives to meet this demand through a variety of programs. Importantly, as programs are held, producer feedback and advisory groups continuously impact the improvement and development of programs. The LSU AgCenter’s Master Cattleman Program, Advanced Master Cattleman Program and Beginner Cattleman Program are tailored to meet the ever-changing beef cattle industry.

Master Cattleman Program

In 2004, LSU AgCenter agents and specialists launched the Master Cattleman Program throughout the state. Each year, different parishes host the program, which features 10 nights of curriculum-based education on the following topics: animal health, nutrition, reproduction, breeding and selection, animal handling, Beef Quality Assurance certification, pasture agronomy, weed management, economics and marketing, and end products. Graduates receive a certified Master Cattleman gate sign and certificate. Often, graduations are featured at local beef and forage field days to highlight these producers and their achievement.

Designed to teach best management practices in both beef cattle and forage management, Master Cattleman content is continually updated to match emerging technologies and management strategies within the industry. As the industry continues to evolve, producers must realize there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to beef cattle management. However, producers can build on foundational principles and strategies. The overall mission of the Master Cattleman Program is to educate beef cattle and forage producers on these foundational principles and assist them in improving their production and profitability.

Advanced Master Cattleman Program

Feedback from Master Cattleman Program graduates indicated a need for more hands-on learning and increased detail in topics such as pasture management, nutrition, reproduction, health and record keeping. Subsequently, the Advanced Master Cattleman Program began in 2019. To enroll in the Advanced Program, participants must be Master Cattleman graduates, Beef Quality Assurance certified and hold a Louisiana pesticide applicator permit.

Hands-on learning demonstrations for the program include sprayer calibration, forage sampling, weed identification, pelvic area measurements, artificial insemination and pregnancy determination. Participants also learn about the digestion of different feedstuffs with cannulated cows, which are cows with a permanent incision made in the left side of the abdomen, allowing access to the cow’s rumen, the largest of the stomach compartments. Cannulated cows serve important medical and educational purposes. Master Cattleman Participants also receive a new record keeping and financial management system designed by Kurt Guidry, professor and agricultural economist for the AgCenter. In addition to all of this, each of the four workshops includes classroom time, which allows AgCenter specialists and researchers to dive further into a variety of beef cattle and forage management topics. The first two Advanced Master Cattleman Program classes have been conducted at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria. However, future classes will be offered throughout the state to better accommodate producers.

Beginner Cattleman Program

The average beef cattle herd in the United States and Louisiana has fewer than 50 head of cattle. Many beef cattle producers have fewer than 10 years of experience in the industry, and even more are looking to purchase their first cattle after moving to the country or retiring. These trends, coupled with feedback from AgCenter beef cattle advisory councils and graduates of the Master Cattleman Program, led to the development of the Beginner Cattleman Program in 2021.

Designed for cattle producers with 10 years or fewer of experience raising beef cattle and for people interested in starting to raise beef cattle, the Beginner Cattleman Program features a hybrid learning format consisting of at-home virtual learning through pre-recorded videos and five in-person workshops. This allows participants to gain background knowledge before viewing demonstrations and engaging in discussions during the workshops. General topics taught include introductions to animal handling and facilities, animal health, nutrition, reproduction, genetics, marketing, pasture management and weed control. Like the Master Cattleman and Advanced Master Cattleman Programs, the Beginner Cattleman Program will be offered in different regions throughout the state in future years.

Continued Improvement

As each beef cattle operator sets goals, producers seek research-based educational opportunities that will help them evolve their management strategies. Likewise, LSU AgCenter agents, specialists and researchers continue to seek feedback from program participants and advisory councils on how to grow these programs based on the evolving needs of Louisiana’s beef cattle producers. For more information on these and other programs offered by the LSU AgCenter, please contact your local LSU AgCenter Extension office, email Ashley Edwards at akedwards@agcenter.lsu.edu or visit www.lsuagcenter.com/beefcattle.

Ashley K. Edwards is the statewide extension livestock specialist based at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria. Vince Deshotel is a livestock agent in the Central Region. Jason E. Holmes is a livestock specialist in the Northeast Region. A. Lee Faulk is an associate extension agent in the Northwest Region, and Andrew Granger is a livestock agent in Vermilion Parish. Stan Dutile is a livestock agent in Lafayette Parish. Bradley Pousson is a livestock agent in Jefferson Davis Parish. Gary M. Hay is a professor and extension specialist in Tangipahoa Parish.

This article appeared in the fall 2022 edition of Louisiana Agriculture.

A man stands in a field of green grass and speaks to a group of people.

Guillermo Scaglia, a former LSU AgCenter researcher, teaches participants how to collect forage samples for nutrient analysis in the Advanced Master Cattleman Program. Photo by Ashley K. Edwards

A man holds tools and speaks to a group of people.

Vince Deshotel reviews basic fencing and farm equipment for participants in the Beginner Cattleman Program. Photo by Ashley K. Edwards

A man stands next to a tractor with a tank on the back and speaks to a crowd.

In the Advanced Master Cattleman Program, producers learn to calibrate and use sprayers to manage weeds in their pastures. Photo by Ashley K. Edwards

12/15/2022 4:43:58 PM
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