'Cover Your Acres' Conference set for Jan. 15 and 16

COLBY K-State Research and Extension is teaming up with the Northwest Kansas Crop Residue Alliance to host the 10th annual Cover Your Acres Winter Conference for crop producers and consultants on Jan. 15-16 at the Gateway conference center in Oberlin.

Cover Your Acres is a producer-driven meeting focused on new ideas and updates in crop production in northwest Kansas.

The conference, which typically draws more than 500 attendees from Kansas and other states, highlights the latest technology, methods, and conservation practices to improve crop production on the High Plains. This year it will feature university specialists and industry representatives discussing issues such as kochia control, cropping intensity and fallow efficiency, pre-season irrigation, wheat fertility: simple and effective, and use of corn residue by cattle. The same programs will be offered both days of the conference.

Registration will begin at 7:45 a.m., with educational sessions ending at 5:00 p.m. followed by a "bull session" on Tuesday evening, where attendees can visit with industry and university specialists.

The cost is $50 per day. The conference fee includes lunch and educational materials. Continuing education unit credits are available for commercial applicators and certified crop advisors.

Mail registration, with a check payable to KSU, to the Northwest Area Office, ATTN: Jeanne Falk, P.O. Box 786, Colby, Kan. 67701. To view the conference flier and for online registration, see: www.northwest.ksu.edu/CoverYourAcres. For questions, call (785) 462-6281.

Major sponsors of the conference include Bayer CropScience, Brothers Equipment, Hoxie Implement, Lang Diesel, Monsanto, National Sunflower Association, Simpson Farm Enterprises, and Surefire Ag Systems.

Registration open for women's ag conference

MANHATTAN The 2013 Women Managing the Farm Conference is scheduled for Feb. 7 and 8 and will be held in Manhattan at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The popular agriculture conference for women will be the eighth in a series. It began as a regional offering before becoming a multi-day conference held in Hutchinson, and, in recent years, in Wichita.

Moving the conference to Manhattan allows greater access to resources at Kansas State University and K-State Research and Extension, said Janet Barrows, who, with Robin Blume, are serving as volunteers for the educational effort.

Moving the conference also provides an opportunity for adding a pre-conference session, which Barrows dubbed "Blue Jean Basics" on Feb. 6. The session is being planned as a less formal introductory and interactive opportunity for participants to learn from K-State crops and livestock specialists.

The conference is recommended for women who are land owners, farm or ranch managers, partners or employees, absentee landlords, or career women engaged in agricultural careers.

Women new to production agriculture by inheritance or marriage find the conference to be informative and reassuring, Barrows said. And, while geared to women, spouses and others appreciate conference topics and time to network with women moving into leadership roles in agriculture.

The 2013 edition of the conference promises a full agenda with featured speakers and more than two dozen breakout sessions considering financial risks; human risks; estate planning and legal issues; insurance; production; drought management; social advocacy; retail agriculture and, yes, even farming in the city.

Jolene Brown, a champion for agriculture and consultant for family-owned businesses will blend humor with tips into two conference presentations.

Her topics, "If We Huff and We Puff Will We Blow Your House Down?" and "The Balancing Act: 10 Ideas to Relieve Stress and Bring Renewal to Our Farm and Family Life" promise a realistic look at agriculture and family life in today's world and offers ideas for moving forward successfully and keeping peace in the family.

The cost to attend the two-day conference is $145 for registrations received by Jan. 23, and $170 for registrations received after Jan. 23. Registration includes conference sessions, materials and packet, two lunches, one breakfast buffet, and refreshment breaks.

More information about the conference and online registration is available at www.womenmanagingthefarm.info.

The conference hotel (Hilton Garden Inn) will offer a limited number of rooms at a conference rate of $104. plus 15.05 percent tax. Reservations can be made online as part of the registration process or by phone: (785) 532-9116. The conference code is WMFC.

The conference typically attracts more than 200 attendees, and early registration and reservations are recommended, Barrows said.

Conference sponsors and partners include the USDA Farm Service Agency; K-State Research and Extension; Kansas Farm Bureau; Farm Credit Associations of Kansas, which includes Frontier Farm Credit; American AgCredit; Farm Credit of Ness City; High Plains Farm Credit; Farm Credit of Western Kansas, and Farm Credit of Southwest Kansas, Kansas Dairy Commission, Kansas Wheat, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Study showcases Beef Quality Assessment tool

MANHATTAN A recent study by Kansas State University's Beef Cattle Institute indicated that most Kansas feedlots are handling cattle in a low stress, humane manner and have protocols in place designed to ensure beef safety.

"Last year the Beef Cattle Institute and the Kansas Beef Council partnered to host seven meetings across the state which resulted in nearly 1,200 beef producers and veterinarians becoming Beef Quality Assurance Certified," said Dan Thomson, professor in K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the BCI.

During the sessions, participants were trained in areas of low-stress cattle handling, antibiotic residue avoidance, cattle comfort, food safety, downed animal care, preconditioning practices and other areas of feedlot, cow/calf and stocker cattle production. The participants also took part in a necropsy wet lab which led to discussions on disease control and treatment programs for cattle.

"This program has developed into an annual event and we are already planning the sessions and locations for next summer. We are very thankful for the support and partnership with the Kansas Beef Council and the Kansas Livestock Association," said Thomson, who serves as the animal welfare adviser to McDonald's and the Food Marketing Institute and has chaired the World Organization for Animal Health's Beef Cattle Production and Animal Welfare Committee.

Training of individuals on best management practices in the beef industry is a focus of the BCI. After the training sessions, a team of scientists and graduate students from K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Animal Sciences and Industry conducted a follow-up "on farm" assessment of animal welfare and food safety practices on Kansas feedlots.

The goal of the study, which was funded by the Kansas Beef Council, was to use a new Feedlot Beef Quality Assessment tool developed by veterinarians, animal scientists and producers to assess activities related to cattle handling and comfort, antibiotic residue avoidance, employee training and other areas of cattle feeding in respect to food safety and animal welfare. K-State experts visited farms to assess how they handled those activities, including the condition of feed bunks and water tanks, protocols for emergency preparedness and issues surrounding food safety such as accurate treatment records and drug residue avoidance programs.

Thomson said the BQA program has evolved and encompasses everything from how to prevent antimicrobial residues to making sure cattle producers are producing safe, wholesome beef from cattle raised in a humane manner.

In the study, the research team evaluated feedlots on 18 best management practices, including whether feedlots had protocols in place for such practices as drug residue avoidance; maintaining a veterinary-client relationship; cattle welfare and handling during inclement weather; pen maintenance; personnel training documentation; individual animal health records and others.

The feedlots evaluated have the capacity to provide feed and care for a total of almost 2 million animals at one time, which represents about 85 percent of the entire one-time capacity of all feedlots in Kansas.

All feedlots in the study had a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship, Thomson said. This relationship is important as the veterinarian works daily with feedlot operators in activities such as clinical definition for sick or injured cattle, preventative medicine, proper drug handling, employee training on castration and de-horning procedures, low-stress cattle handling and other food safety and animal welfare practices.

Thomson believes that the kind of assessment done by the team will help reinforce best management practices in feedlots not only in the state, but across the country.

More detailed information about the study can be found on the K-State extension agricultural economics website: www.agmanager.info.