Published on 02/18/16

Northeast Georgia Beef Cattle Short Course provides vital information for producers

By Whitney Dixon

More than 100 beef cattle producers and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agents gathered in Athens this month for UGA’s Northeast Georgia Beef Cattle Short Course.

For the past five years, the daylong workshop has brought the northeast Georgia cattle community together for education and networking.

“It is one of the best educational tools in the state,” said Fred Gretsch of Gretsch Brothers Angus, who participated in the short course. “It’s close to home and a great chance to comingle with cattle producers. The topics and speakers are excellent and very timely. You get the latest and greatest information.”

From economic forecasts to cattle genetics, researchers and UGA Extension specialists from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences provided a broad update on the latest beef cattle industry information.

John McKissick, professor emeritus in the CAES Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, told the cattle farmers that 2016 will be a transition year for the industry, and he expects to see beef prices decline over the course of the year. In a year like this, it is important to turn out as many calves as producers can and get them to market quickly, he told the crowd.

Dennis Hancock, UGA Extension forage specialist, explained how farmers could get the most out of their winter annual forages. He told the crowd that ryegrass has been shown to be most effective in Georgia. He also introduced the idea of using RyzUp SmartGrass plant growth regulators to build more stress tolerant pastures and adding brassicas to help extend the grazing season into the late fall and winter.

Daniela Lourenco, an assistant professor in the UGA Department of Animal and Dairy Science, briefed participants on the use of genetic testing to make breeding decisions that strengthen cattle herds.

Jacob Segers, UGA Extension beef cattle specialist on UGA’s Tifton Campus, presented information on managing herd bulls for reproductive success.

In the afternoon, particpants rotated through a circuit of interactive demonstrations on topics such as the proper application of animal identification, body condition scoring, feeder calf grading and heifer development.

Participants earned continuing education credits for beef quality assurance and private and commercial pesticide licenses. Ag Georgia Farm Credit, Georgia Cattlemen’s Association and Rolling Rock Livestock Systems helped to sponsor this year’s event.

For more information on UGA’s Beef Team, visit For photos from the short course, go to

Whitney Dixon is a communications intern for UGA Cooperative Extension and a student at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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