Cattlemen’s College Comes to Harrisburg

4/6/2013 7:00 AM
By Michelle Kunjappu Reporter

HARRISBURG, Pa. — This year, the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s College, organized by the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association, was in part held in Harrisburg for the first time.

Conducted March 28 in the Susquehanna Room of the Farm Show Complex, the Cattlemen’s College preceded the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Heifer and Jackpot Steer Show, which was also at the Farm Show building.

The college included a docket of five speakers and was sponsored in part by Zoetis, a global animal health company.

During the one-day program, Bill McBeth, a veterinarian with Zoetis Producer Programs, opened the morning with a discussion about scours.

Will Seymour discussed the importance of fetal programming in cattle, and Mike Peacock presented a workshop on forage management and forage assays for beef production. Michelle Roman ended the day with a seminar on feed additives. All three are certified professional animal scientists.

Ann Nogan, executive vice president of the Center for Beef Excellence in Harrisburg, discussed several programs available to producers through the center.

On the center’s website, under the “programs” link, there are three programs available to Pennsylvania producers.

One is its tag program, where the center supplies producers with small radio-frequency identification, or RFID, ear tags for their herds.

“Consumers want to know where beef comes from and how you handled your animals,” she said.

“The benefit that the RFID program offers to you is it allows you to provide traceability in marketing your animals,” Nogan said, and to manage herd health and programs.

“It’s designed to show that you’re committed to producing the quality product that the consumer is looking for.

“It opens markets to you as more and more people want that local market,” she said. “It allows people to confidently say, these cattle were born and raised in Pennsylvania.’ ”

The tags, which are currently grant-funded, are free except the shipping charge to get them to the producer. The tags usually cost $5 each.

“We run in cooperation with the Department of Ag, who hosts premise ID and tag numbers that you’ll be receiving,” Nogan said.

Producers interested in receiving tags must first receive a premise identification number from the state Department of Agriculture and then complete an online form to request the tags.

The tags are activated when they pass through a hand-held or permanently installed reader. It then sends information to the reader that can be fed back to a computer to record data such as performance numbers or vaccination records.

They are not intended to replace visual identification tags.

Cattle Handling Equipment

Another opportunity for producers is a free mobile cattle handling equipment setup, which includes a trailer unit with a chute, a palpation cage, panels, sweep, reader for RFID tags and scales. Producers can use the equipment for up to 21 days.

Last year, the setup was used heavily by producers in several counties, Nogan said.

So “put a request in so you get it when you need it,” she said. “It goes from producer to producer so you are responsible for washing it out after you’ve used it.

“It’s a nice system,” Nogan said. “It allows you to play around with what you might want to put in place.”

The setup is a “chain system so it doesn’t need to be on level ground — it’s more forgiving on uneven ground,” she said.

The equipment comes with a receiver for the back of a pickup and has lights.

Advising Teams

Nogan also discussed the grants the beef center has to help producers with putting together either a profit team, target team or succession team for their operations.

For instance, the center works with producers to line up advising mentors such as educators, veterinarians or nutritionists to provide profitability information and set goals or put plans in place for the producer.

“The teams are set up to run for about a year, and we will put the team in place based on goals listed on application,” Nogan said.

The team will come to the operation and do an assessment, and may have subsequent conference calls to put the plan in place.

An application is online at the Center for Beef Excellence’s website,

Besides the three programs, the website also features a marketplace where producers can list what they are selling or buying.

Also available is an events calendar to allow producers to post, for example, a cattle producers meeting.

A FAQ section offers answers to questions from all segments of the industry.

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