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Beef Cattle Health and Economic Profitability Highlighted at Driftless Region Conference

12:03PM Jan 08, 2015

Cattle operators know that health status of cattle dramatically impacts profit/loss margins, and the sustainability for the enterprise. With the price of calves now at record highs, keeping cattle healthy may be the difference between hedging a profit and absorbing a large financial loss. Both cattle health and profits in the beef industry will be addressed at the Driftless Region Beef Conference in Dubuque, Iowa, Jan. 22-23.

Featured speaker Mark Hilton, DVM and clinical professor of beef production medicine at Purdue University, will help producers explore improving the health of feedlot cattle in his presentation "Ensuring feedlot health -- Where does it all begin?”

He will cover the importance of health throughout the life cycle, from fetal programming to slaughter, “because everything impacts health,” Hilton said. 

Hilton will contribute to the conference discussion on health issues with a breakout session on the second day. He’ll highlight the value of a solid preconditioning program to the cow-calf operation’s bottom line. Because many producers may question the value of a preconditioning program in a market like the current one, he will outline why the “preconditioning bonus” plays only a minor role in the overall profitability of a well-executed preconditioning program.

Conference attendees also can learn about enhancing profitability and reinvesting beef operation profits in sessions presented by Lee Schulz,  livestock economist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Schulz will describe and explain the use of beef enterprise profitability decision tools in one session, and follow up with a presentation on strategies for reinvesting profits from the beef operation.

The ability of beef producers to grasp the profitability and overall risk situation of their operations and broader industry trends is critical for long-term business success. The size of the U.S. beef cow herd is at historically low levels and prospects for national herd expansion continue to grow. However, producers who are considering expansion need to make sound decisions to make sure their operations are economically sustainable and well positioned to succeed. In addition, opportunities exist for integration of young producers and future generations into cattle production, but these individuals need knowledge and tools to help them thrive in the industry.

Agenda and registration
To hear more about these as well as other timely topics presented by prominent figures in the beef industry, producers are encouraged to register soon for the Driftless Beef Conference that runs from 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22 through 11:45 a.m. Friday, Jan. 23. The Thursday afternoon program focuses on improving efficiency and profitability of beef production in the upper Midwest, followed by an evening discussion focused on opportunities to capitalize on the diversity in the beef industry. The Friday morning agenda includes four breakout sessions each for feedlot operations and cow-calf producers.

The early registration fee for the conference is $85 per person and must be received prior to midnight, Jan. 14. The price increases to $115 after that date. More information about the conference, including topics, speakers and lodging is available at

The Driftless Region Beef Conference is sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the University of Minnesota Extension, and University of Wisconsin Extension. The planning team strives to deliver the latest in research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information or to receive a brochure, Denise Schwab, ISU Extension and Outreach Beef Specialist, at 319-721-9624.

Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach