Three-day school designed for novices and experts alike
OVERTON – Even though parts of Texas have had relief from the drought, grain and fertilizer prices remain high, which makes efficient pasture management as critical as ever to livestock producers, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.
Set March 26-28 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, the three-day Pasture and Livestock Management Workshop is now accepting students.
Though billed as being for novice ranchers, the school teaches both beginners and the experienced to get the most “bang for their buck,” according to Dr. Gerald Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant breeder, Overton, and one of the school instructors.
“Actually, high feed grain prices means efficient forage production is more important than ever,” Smith said “It’s simple. More forage for less money means more profit.”
And while costs everywhere else are going up, Overton center faculty have worked to keep the cost of the school level, said Dr. Monte Rouquette, AgriLife Research forage scientist, and another program instructors. Registration for the three-day school is $350, which includes meals, including lunches, barbecue, a steak dinner, continental style breakfasts, break refreshments and educational materials.
As in previous years, registration is limited to 60 to allow plenty of one-on-one time between the instructors and students, Rouquette said. Participants may reserve an opening by phone or email by contacting Jennifer Lloyd at 903-834-6191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Lloyd will have information on class openings, local accommodations and driving directions to the center.
“We’ve heard again and again from students that what they’ve learned in the first morning paid for the cost of the course many times over,” said Dr. Greg Clary, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist and another course instructor.
Most of the instructors hold doctorates in their fields and are either with AgriLife Extension or AgriLife Research, Rouquette said. They have expertise in forage breeding and production, soil fertility, wildlife management, beef cattle nutrition and marketing.
Having knowledge in these areas can mean the difference between profiting from the cattle business or it becoming a bottomless money pit, Rouquette said.
“The foundation of any cattle business anywhere is built upon good grazing and forage management, and that’s largely what the school is about,” he said.
One indication of the workshop’s value can be found in repeat attendance, according to Rouquette. Though the grazing school was originally designed for local novices in 2001, attendance soon expanded beyond the region, attracting students nationwide and out-of-country with varying levels of expertise.
Rouquette said some graduates have found the intensive course so valuable, they have returned a second year to take it again, and some have returned a third year.
“Usually, about 25 percent of the enrollment consists of people who are absolutely new to ranching and pasture management, 50 percent who have some knowledge, and 25 percent who have extensive experience,” Rouquette said.
The school is split between the classroom and instruction in the field. Outdoor demonstrations cover all aspects of running a beef operation, from establishing and maintaining high-quality forages, calibrating sprayers, taking soil samples, castrating and vaccinating cattle, and de-horning calves, said Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist and workshop instructor, Overton.
Also included will be training on writing a business plan for a ranch, keeping proper records, choosing the appropriate forage species for different soils, understanding soil fertility, establishing forage systems that minimize winter feeding costs, setting correct stocking rates, choosing the right cattle breeds, promoting good animal health and marketing cattle, Rouquette said.
Another subject, dealing with wild pigs, aka feral hogs, has become crucial to ranchers throughout Texas. There will be extensive instruction on trapping and other types of control by Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, Overton, and a nationally recognized expert in the field, Rouquette said.
A full program agenda can be found at http://overton.tamu.edu/beef-cattle/grazing-school-2013/. A registration form at the same URL can be printed out and mailed with a check to the center.
Driving directions may be found at http://overton.tamu.edu/info-maps-history/ .