Eng symposium to explore innovative practices in cow-calf systems

Contact: Courtney Coufal, 979-845-1542, cacoufal@tamu.edu

Media contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

SAN ANTONIO – Exploring expansion of cattle herds will be discussed at the 2014 Kenneth and Caroline McDonald Eng Foundation Symposium, scheduled Sept. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Riverwalk, 125 E. Houston St. in San Antonio.

“Innovative Intensification in Cow-Calf Systems” is the second annual symposium to be sponsored by the Eng Foundation. Texas A&M University will host the event, which includes participation by researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Oklahoma State University.

The Dr. Kenneth & Caroline McDonald Eng Foundation was established in memory and as a legacy to Caroline who loved life, cattle and cattle people, and as an avenue to help future scholars while enhancing beef cattle research.

The symposium will feature current research that explores how cattle producers can meet industry challenges and opportunities.

“Innovative Intensification in Cow-Calf Systems” is the second annual symposium to be sponsored by the Eng Foundation. Texas A&M University will host the event, which includes participation by researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Oklahoma State University. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

“Innovative Intensification in Cow-Calf Systems” is the second annual symposium to be sponsored by the Eng Foundation. Texas A&M University will host the event, which includes participation by researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Oklahoma State University. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

“Expansion of the cow herd is crucial to the long-term sustainability of beef production in the United States,” said Dr. Tryon Wickersham, Texas A&M University associate professor of animal nutrition in the department of animal science and one of several speakers. Wickersham will present “Managing Energy Requirements in Confined Cows.”

“Intensification of cow-calf production provides one avenue to expand an existing cow herd without purchasing or renting additional land,” he said. “With the support of the Eng Foundation, we have conducted a project to determine how energy density and level of intake impact the efficiency of energy utilization for cows in confinement. Data generated in this project was then used to calculate the impact of intensification on profitability of a ranch.”

The symposium will also feature current research that explores how cattle producers can best meet these challenges with forward-looking ideas and opportunities, said Ken Eng, cattleman and nutrition consultant.

“This year’s symposium will offer perspectives on opportunities for innovation in production systems through strategic intensification,” he said. “We’ll address questions such as: Can increasing management intensity increase profitability, reduce risk and enhance the sustainability of beef production enterprises?”

Dr. Carey Satterfield, Texas A&M assistant professor of physiology reproduction in the department of animal science, will discuss “Fetal Programming: Implications and Opportunities in Confinement Systems.”

“My presentation will focus on the relationship between fetal development and postnatal growth, performance and health resulting from our emerging understanding of fetal programming, a relatively new area of biological research,” he said. “We will discuss the limited information available from recent beef cattle research and discuss possibilities for enhancing beef production efficiency in the future, particularly focusing on the potential advantages of confinement feeding systems.”

Dr. Sara Place, Oklahoma State University assistant professor specializing in sustainable beef systems, will provide an overview of challenges the industry has dealt with over the years.

“My presentation will cover why there has been an increased interest in ‘sustainability’ in recent years, some challenges with defining sustainability, the contributions of ruminants to sustainable food systems, and the linkage between cow efficiency and sustainability.”

Jason Warner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will present, “Herd Health Observations in Nebraska Intensive Cow-Calf Systems Project.”

“Partial or total intensive management (confinement) of beef cows offers a potential alternative to conventional cow-calf production, given recent events that have challenged the availability of forage for maintaining cowherds,” Warner said.  “However, alternative production systems must be economically viable.  Therefore, health and reproduction are critical for sustainable cow-calf systems because calf losses represent lost income.  Health risks for both cows and calves in intensive production systems will be discussed as well as management strategies and protocols that may help mitigate those risks.  In addition, health observations from our research will be reported, providing important information for producers and industry experts.”

Other symposium topics include:

-   Drylot beef cow systems in the Northern Great Plains.

-   Cow efficiency: Implications for beef sustainability.

-   Nutritional and management considerations when merging cow-calf and feedlot operations.

-   Intensified cow-calf production in the Southern Great Plains combining semi-confinement, wheat pasture and cover crops.

-   Does intensification improve sustainability?

The event is open to the public. Cattle producers interested in opportunities to expand production or increase land-use efficiency should plan to attend, as should researchers and students, organizers said.

Cost is $125 for preregistration and $50 for students. Onsite registration is $150. Hotel information and registration information can be found at http://animalscience.tamu.edu/eng-symposium.

For more information, contact the Eng Foundation at 575-743-6331 or engnm@hotmail.com,or the Texas A&M University department of animal science at 979-845-1541.

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