Conference Program

Speakers and topics listed below are currently scheduled to appear. The planning committee reserves the right to make program adjustments based on speaker availability.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Time Presentation
12:30 pm Registration and check-in
1:00 Welcome, introductions and recognition of sponsors

The environmental footprint of beef production- Jude Capper, Bozeman, Montana

Beef is often cited as having a negative impact on the environment, but is it as bad as the media reports suggest? This presentation discusses the truth behind beef’s environmental impact and the ways in which we have improved over the years.


Insuring feedlot health - Where does it all begin? - Mark Hilton, Clinical Professor, Beef Production Medicine, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

Does the health of the feedlot calf start at feedlot entry, backgrounding, weaning, birth or conception? The answer is “Yes” to all of the above. We’ll discuss the importance of health from fetal programming to slaughter because everything impacts health.


Update on the feed efficiency project and implications to commercial producers and feeders - Dan Loy, Professor and Director, Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University

3:30 Break

Demonstrating Decision Support Tools and Increasing Understanding of Underlying Economic Drivers of Profitability and Risk to Beef Cattle Producers Lee Schulz, Associate Professor and Extension Economist, Iowa State University

A host of Excel-based decision support tools and related educational resources will be highlighted enabling attendees to act upon information they receive and apply it to their own operation and situation.


Apps for beef operations, what’s out there and what’s coming – Rick Rasby, Nebraska

Phone apps are popular for the young crowd, but new apps are also being developed for beef producers.  Learn what’s out there and what’s coming, and how you can utilize them in your business.


Reinvesting Profits from the Beef Operation Lee Schulz, Associate Professor and Extension Economist, Iowa State University

The high prices for cattle in 2014 bring opportunities to reinvest in the beef operation.  What should producers be considering as they look at future cattle markets and opportunities to build the cattle operation?

5:45 Break and check into hotel rooms
6:00 Social time, meet the sponsors
  Dinner (provided)
7:30 Bull Pen

"Beef Production Puzzle: What are the pieces? How do they fit together?" Moderated by Mark Hilton.

Consumer Preferences
- Ground Beef
Current and Forecasted Beef Production
- Relationships to competing meats
Consumer Choice/Diversity in the production sector
- Good or Bad for Demand
Potential Niche Markets
- Grass-Fed
- Locally-Raised
- Humanely-Raised
- Prime/White Table Cloth
- Non-GMO fed
Management Strategies to fit a Niche
Future Niche Market Opportunities

Friday, January 23, 2015

Time Presentation
6:30 am Breakfast buffet

Sustainability, What is it, what it means for beef producers and where to from hereJude Capper, Bozeman, Montana

Sustainability is often thought of as a “bad” word for the beef industry, with images of “going green” and low-productivity systems. This presentation discusses what sustainability really means for the U.S. Beef industry and how we improve economic viability, environmental responsibility and social acceptability through improved productivity.

7:45 Breakout session 1 (select one)

Adding value through direct market sales
Tom Arnold, Elizabeth, Ill.

Tom will share some of his tips for success in the world of direct marketing.  He has been direct marketing naturally raised beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and lamb in the Jo Daviess County and Chicago area for almost 20 years. His products includes both grass fed and grain fed beef, pasture poultry, turkey and pork sold as individual packages, mixed samplers, quarters, sides or whole carcasses.  Learn about the steps from production, processing, marketing and retail.

Preconditioning – Adding Profit to the Cow-calf Herd’s Bottom LineMark Hilton, Clinical Professor Beef Production Medicine, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine

Have you ever heard a beef producer lament, “I preconditioned my calves this year and they brought the same price as my neighbor’s calves and he didn’t do anything?” find out why the ‘preconditioning bonus’ plays a minor role in the profitability of preconditioning. Learn what really does matter.
8:45 Breakout session 2 (select one)

Understanding and using antibiotics responsibly
Dr. Joe Dedrickson, Merial. 

Pharmakinetics is the big word for understanding how drugs are broken down in the body, where they are stored, and how quickly they are removed from the body.  Learn why this is critical for appropriate selection of antibiotics in food production and what impacts it has on our ability to produce beef.

Optimizing forage and pasture resources with annual cropsRhonda Gildersleeve, Professor and Extension Grazing Specialist, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.

Use of annual crops is increasing in the Driftless Region as a means of providing additional cover to protect our soils. We’ll discuss use of annual crop options to provide additional forage and pasture for cost-effective beef cattle feeding systems.
9:45 Break
10:00 Breakout session 3 (select one)

Lessons Learned from 32 years of Retained OwnershipDarrell Busby, Coordinator of TCSCF

The principal objective of the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity program is to provide information to beef producers to use in managing and marketing their product.  This includes feedlot performance, carcass data and sire summaries.  This session will focus on lessons learned and changes made to breeding and management programs of the participants, and suggestions for how other cattle producers can also apply this information. 

Economics of marginal corn ground compared to seeding to pasture or hayGene Schriefer

The soils within the Driftless Region and past erosion have created wide swings in crop productivity across a single field.   In periods of high prices even marginal land may offer a positive return, but under low commodity prices, the farmer may be losing money on every acre of this marginal land.    When commodity beef prices are low we can cull the bottom end of the cows and improve the financial performance of the herd.  Culling an acre of crop ground with our low commodity prices is a little harder.  Re-purposing lower quality marginal crop ground into forage or pasture production may improve the overall farm finances.

11:00 Breakout session 4 (select one)

Improving efficiency through feed resource optimizationNicole Rambo, Extension Feedlot Specialist, University of Minnesota

A number of technologies and management practices are available to feedlot owners and operators to enhance feedlot productivity and efficiency; however, ignored or unperceived losses in basic subsystems remain a limiting factor. In this talk, conserving feed resources from harvest through bunk line delivery will be discussed as a tool to improve feedlot efficiency and profitability. Measurements of feed loss at various stages, methods for reducing loss and potential impacts on profitability will be discussed.

Nutrition and Reproduction topicTravis Meteer

Cows slipping out of the calving season? Early spring calving herds generally are breeding on or shortly before turning out on lush, spring growth of forage. This discussion will talk about the nutritional complications of lush, spring forages and how to better manage "the modern beef cow" at this critical time.

12:00 Conference adjourns


The Driftless Region Beef Conference is a cooperative effort of the Extension services of University of Illinois, Iowa State Universtiy, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin.