By Dallas Duncan, Georgia Cattlemen's Association director of communications
The 52nd Annual Georgia Cattlemen's Association Convention kicked off today in Perry with the second annual forage conference, featuring expert speakers from around the Southeast.
"I'm really pleased with how it turned out this year," said Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia forage Extension specialist. "A couple of years ago [GCA Executive Vice President] Josh White and I were talking about opportunities to kind of encourage more participation in the cattlemen's convention. One of the things we really focused on was the ability to merge forage programming."
Topics in today's presentation included weed management in the hayfield, round bale silage management, insect management and a session on economics and risk management. Speakers included Patrick McCullough, Extension weed scientist, Extension entomologist Will Hudson, Extension animal scientist Lawton Stewart and Extension livestock economist Curt Lacy.
Producers who attended could earn up to 1.5 hours of Beef Quality Assurance credit during today's session.
"It's a great opportunity to learn about the current issues in forage production, which all the livestock producers in my county are very interested in," said Lucy Ray, Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Morgan County. "I really enjoyed the talks on baleage. That's something that a lot of our producers are looking at, storing their own baleage, so that's information I can take back to the county."
Morgan County cattleman Alan Verner was one of many producers who attended today's conference. He said though many of the issues discussed have been issues for years, there is always new information to learn.
"If they don't hear it firsthand, they hear it secondhand or they don't hear it at all," Verner said. "It's best to hear it yourself and talk to the professionals and the people who really know the information well."
Compared to last year, Hancock says the 2013 Forage Conference was up 15 percent in attendance. He called the program "a resounding success."
"I think one of the big things is for us to recognize the cost of doing business and how much of that is owed to the forage production enterprises," he said. "A lot of our producers feel like they're in many ways grass farmers, taking grass and turning it into a meat product that is very desirable and very nutritious."
The 2013 Forage Conference continues tomorrow with presentations from Auburn University assistant professor Jennifer Johnson and University of Florida Ph.D candidate Kim Mullenix.