When three Indiana farmers were ready to take their operations to the next level, the Purdue Extension Master Cattleman program was there to steer them in the right direction.
Randy Bush, Dean Gangwer, and Cory Hill are established beef producers who have worked with the Master Cattleman program to improve their efficiency and productivity.
Master Cattleman programs are designed to help beef producers like them across the United States gain advanced knowledge in financial planning, forage and grazing management, beef quality improvement, nutrition, reproduction, and herd health and well-being. Purdue Extension’s Master Cattleman program lasts 10 weeks and includes classroom instruction and optional field days, such as a visit to Purdue’s Boilermaker Butcher Block meat plant.
Forage and pasture management are two of the program’s focus areas, the participants said.
“One of the most valuable things I learned was how to create an aggressive pasture management and rotation plan,” says Bush, a veterinarian near Flora who raises Angus beef cattle.
He had started a rotation grazing program before enrolling in the program, but what he learned from Purdue Extension helped him develop his program more quickly.
“If you have a robust forage plan, then you have an opportunity to still manage the system effectively even in unexpected weather or drought,” he says.
Bush plans to use what he learned about cover crops, forage, and other feed sources to help keep costs down.
Hill, a fifth-generation farmer who breeds and raises SimAngus beef cattle near Bloomfield, said the program confirmed that he was already caring well for his herd, and gave him the knowledge to do even better.
“We’ve done forage sampling on our hay for the last couple of years, but I didn’t know how to take the analysis results and put them to use in a ration,” Hill says. “Learning how to read those reports is well worth the cost for anyone, in my book.”
For Gangwer, a third-generation farmer in Cutler who expanded his herd to 160 head of Angus beef cattle, the program provided a chance to earn his Beef Quality Assurance certification, which he described as a way to demonstrate his commitment to ethical practices.
“[The certification] is a win-win for both sides. Producers understand how to take care of their animals, and the public understands that we understand,” Gangwer says. “Being certified is a way to show the public that we care.”
Purdue Extension’s 10-week Indiana Master Cattleman Program shifts more control into producers’ hands through intensive instruction that covers all aspects of the industry – from business management to husbandry and environmental stewardship.
The program has certified 40 Indiana beef producers, increased their annual revenue potential by $1,000 to $10,000, and won the 2016 National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ award for Excellence in Livestock Production.
100%: Participants reporting that the program influenced operational decisions
100%: Participants reporting that the program increased operational revenue potential
52%: Participants reporting estimated increase in annual revenue potential of $1,000 to $5,000
Purdue Extension will continue to offer the program in new locations while incorporating weekly distance learning opportunities. Meanwhile, certified participants benefit from continuing education and field days to keep up with trends and technology.