A year in review:
2012 Optimization of Beef and Forage Production in Hopkins County
Dr. Mario A. Villarino
County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Hopkins County
Relevance: Beef Production is a 2.96 billion dollar industry in the East Region per data in the 2008 production year. The predominant beef producer in the region is a cow/calf producer with less than 100 head. All beef enterprises are also affected by climate change as well as market variability. County-based Program Area Committees firmly establish the need for educational programs targeted for beef producers enabling them to increase knowledge as well as adopt best management practices and new technologies improving product quality and producer sustainability. Hopkins County currently has over 150 active beef producers, with numerous more not registered. A preconditioning sale of stocker cattle (NETBIO) has proven to be a successful marketing tool with more than 22,000 head processed since its conception. This program will cooperate with NETBIO committee and subcommittees to resolve educational issues related to the success of the beef industry in Hopkins County, with special emphasis to the small producer. The importance of beef producer education has been identified several times thru out the year during Leadership Advisory Board sessions where the need to provide specific information to producers related to forage management and effective use of intensive grazing principles to reduce feed cost was identified.
Response: To properly respond to the educational issues identified by the committees involved in the plan, a series of activities were planned to promote educational experiences to beef producers in forage management. Twelve newspaper articles, 4 newsletters and four educational programs (Multi-county cow-calf clinic in Winnsboro, January 2012; Forage Conference in Emory, February 2012; Grazing tour to Sulphur Bluff, October 2012 and Private Applicator re-certification conference in Sulphur Springs, November 2012) were planned and conducted throughout the year. The educational program was evaluated using a retrospective post evaluation survey (n=71). The topics evaluated included nitrate toxicity, prussic acid poisoning, use of perennial grasses for hay meadows, importance of weed identification, importance of weed control, effective use of water resources, and effective use of electric fencing among others.
Results: According to the survey results, the majority of the responders were small acreage farmers (33% between 1 and 100 acres). Post evaluation comparisons indicated a significant knowledge increase in all evaluated topics.
Topic % increase
Nitrate toxicity 58.6
Prussic acid poisoning 55.7
Establishment of perennial pastures or hay meadows 45.6
Basics on electric fencing 44.4
Water resources and planning for the future 40.6
Importance of weed identification 37.7
Benefit of weed and brush control 29
From the adoptable technological best management practices intention to adopt was as follows:
Best Management Practice % to adopt
Use of appropriate management following a drought 89.4
Use of recommended practices and technology to control weeds 81.5
Use of soil analysis to improve nutrient management 76.7
Use of alternative or new water supplies 52.1
Economic Impact: 92.6% of the attending participants identified economic benefit from the training with an average of $4,085 per participant for a total anticipated economic benefit of $8.08 per acre farmed.
As feed prices continue to be a major operation cost in beef operations the educational efforts will continue to provide better management options of forages locally grown in Hopkins County.
The Hopkins County Agricultural and Natural Resources program want to recognize the leadership of the Beef Program Area Committee, The North East Texas Beef Improvement Association and local news media for their support during the implementation of this plan.
Upcoming events: Northeast Texas Cattleman’s Conference, January 30, 2013. Winnboro City Auditorium, 8:00 to 2:30 pm. Cost $15 meal included. Sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension Service and NETBIO. Four CEU’s for Private Applicators. Call 903-885-3443 to register.
Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are
open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.
The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating