The University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) hosted 175 beef producers and others at its 3rd Annual Beef Cattle/Forage Field Day at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Marianna.

The field day was designed by UF/IFAS faculty and county Extension agents to provide beef producers with updated research information including feed efficiency, forages, and hay storage, which they can use to improve their beef operations.

Herman Laramore, who owns Bar L Ranch in Jackson County, said he's been coming to the Field Days for years to keep up with the new techniques and varieties. “I want to implement the best practice, not just a practice,” said Laramore. “They're trying them all, so they can tell us which are the best ones to work with.”

One of the newest techniques that the Center is researching is feed efficiency. Attendees had the opportunity to see how the UF/IFAS Feed Efficiency Building will help researchers collect data that will ultimately benefit the beef producer by improving feed efficiency.

According to Gary Hansen, a UF/IFAS Assistant Professor of Animal Science at the NFREC-Marianna, “One of the biggest costs in raising beef cattle is the cost of maintaining that animal throughout the year; if you reduce those costs, then that's putting money directly into the producers pocket.”

There were also tours and presentations on pasture fertility, grazing management, warm season forages, pasture weed ID and control, and summer legumes.

These tours were designed to educate beef producers about how to best manage and feed their cattle.

“Beef producers familiar with the proper forage management and forage selection for their individual operations will help them to make wise choices for their livestock needs,” said Ann Blount, a UF/IFAS Associate Professor of Agronomy at the NFREC-Marianna. “Knowledge about the time of planting, methods of planting and knowing what to plant should ultimately assist livestock producers in making good decisions regarding the health of their livestock, best management practices and viable economic situations for their operation.”

Overall, the UF/IFAS Beef Cattle/Forage Field Day was a success and very educational. “I was extremely impressed,” said Marti Coley, a Florida state representative for District 7, who was attending the field day for the first time. “I thought it was amazing — the technology that's involved — especially with the cattle; they can gain that much information and pass it on to the smaller farmers.”

For more information on the beef cattle program at the NFREC-Marianna visit http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu.