The first day of the conference focused on cattle efficiency.

Dan Shike, University of Illinois, discussed feed efficiency and the impacts it has on the industry. He defined alternative measures of efficiency and provided insights into new technology that will facilitate research in feed efficiency. 

Matt Spangler, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, addressed current and future genetic selection tools to change feed intake and efficiency. Amy Radunz, University of Wisconsin – River Falls, discussed how we might define efficiency in a beef cow/calf operation and its current importance in a time of drought and increasing cost of production. 

Then Shike and Tara Felix, University of Illinois, discussed non-traditional feeds and evolving co-products.

A "Bull Pen Session on Crossbreeding" was the evening feature. Matt Spangler moderated a panel discussion with Brian McCulloh from Woodhill Angus and Dale Green from Spring Valley Farms. It was an exciting discussion about how two successful producers view crossbreeding and raised many good questions from the audience.


The next morning featured six breakout sessions. 

The first cow-calf breakout session was G. Allen Bridges, reproductive physiologist from the North Central Research and Outreach Center at Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He discussed how heifer selection, development, and breeding success dictate the future composition and productivity of the cow herd.  

Rhonda R. Gildersleeve, from the University of Wisconsin, discussed pasture and grazing management following the drought of 2012. Travis Meteer, extension beef educator for the University of Illinois, then presented proven strategies to economically winter the cowherd, providing feeding strategies that help combat high feed and hay prices.    

In the feedlot sessions, Jon Hansen from JBS USA discussed marketing options for Holstein steers, including an overview of different contract options and what type of steers meet the contract specifications. 

Dan Huyser, agriculture engineer for ISU Extension and Outreach, then discussed manure in deep bedded finishing buildings, including management to maximize its value and benefits. Confined cattle housing systems including deep bedded facilities have become increasingly popular in the Upper Midwest. 

Dan Loy, director of the Iowa Beef Center, discussed performance differences and management considerations for different feedlot housing systems.

The wrap up speaker was Derrell Peel from Oklahoma State University. Peel looked at major factors affecting cattle markets in 2013; producer marketing and management considerations; and a longer term look at structural changes in the industry and the implication of those changes.

The evaluation comments were very positive – 98 percent of attendees estimated the conference would increase the profit of their operation.

One comment heard overwhelmingly during both the conference and in the evaluations was the hope that this conference can be offered again in future years. The planning committee will be meeting to review this year's conference and determine the future of the program.  end mark

- From Dr. Tara Felix, Dan Huyser, Dr. Derrell Peel news release