OVERTON, Texas – Individual animal ID – tracking and keeping records of cows and steers from the pasture to the plate – will be one of the issues discussed at the upcoming East Texas Forage and Beef Field Day, set for April 15 at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Overton.

Beef industry leaders and government officials have been discussing individual animal ID for years and agree the end result will probably involve electronic ID tags of some sort and a federal mandate. But some who are involved in the beef industry doubt if the hurdles to the ID technology, particularly those of the political variety, would ever be overcome.

The recent incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (more commonly called “mad cow disease”) in Washington state has put individual animal ID on the fast track, however. “It’s no longer a matter of if; it’s a matter of when,” said Jason Cleere, Extension livestock specialist and one of the field day program presenters.

“If you own cattle now and plan to own them another 12 months or so, you need to be aware of this issue,” said Charles Long, resident director at the Overton Center.

During the day-long field day, faculty with both Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station will be involved in presentations and tours.

“Experiment station researchers have been very productive in the two years since our last forage and beef field day, and we have a lot of results to show,” Long said.

The morning session will be composed of field tours highlighting the last two years of forage and beef research at the Overton center.

Included among the research tours will be: ·

The release of Apache, a new arrowleaf clover resistant to bean yellow mosaic virus; ·

A forage study showing stocker cattle can gain nearly 3 pounds a day on Tifton 85 bermudagrass; ·

A study showing low-performing stocker cattle don’t catch up at the feedlot as previously thought; ·

Research showing temperamental cattle eat less, gain less and cost more to own; ·

Results of new bermudagrass variety trials, including information on seeded bermudagrass versus sprigged varieties; ·

Ryegrass and small grains research trials, including information on the new tetraploid ryegrass varieties; Tetraploid ryegrasses have twice the number of chromosomes as traditional varieties, a genetic characteristic resulting in wider leaves, bigger plants and higher yields. ·

Result trials of alfalfas grown on East Texas soils; ·

Tours of Tifton 85 ryegrass under different fertility programs; and ·

Five years of data on how to fine-tune stocking rates with spring forage growth.

After a lunch break, the field day will resume in the Overton center auditorium.. The theme of the afternoon presentations will be “current issues for beef producers.”

The most controversial issue will be that of upcoming individual animal ID requirements. Long and Cleere expect federally-mandated recordkeeping requirements to be in place before the year is out. These record requirements will come into play whenever cattle are sold or even transported.

“It’s coming, and it’s coming soon. Our producers need to be prepared,” Long said.

Registration is free, open to the public and will begin at 8 a.m. at the center headquarters building.

Tours will be offered from 8:30-11:45 a.m. The afternoon session will begin at 1:15 p.m. and adjourn by 3:30 p.m. A barbeque lunch will be made available for $7 per person from 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

The Overton center is located one mile from downtown Overton on Hwy. Coming from south of Overton, take 135 into town. At Overton’s single red stop light, take a left, go across the railroad tracks and turn right immediately after the Brookshire’s market. Look for the large white sign on the right side of the road identifying the Overton Center.

On the Web, maps to the center can be found at http://overton.tamu.edu/contact_1.htm.

Coming from the north, take the 3053 exit from I-20. Look for a row of six glass-paned greenhouses approximately six miles south of State Hwy. 31. e-mail: mailto:rsmith@primediabusiness.com