Amid consumers´ growing interest in how their food is produced, Kansas State University´s Beef Cattle Institute will host the 2010 International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare May 19-21 on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

"Beef cattle well-being is the foundation to any beef cattle operation," said Dan Thomson, K-State associate professor and director of the Beef Cattle Institute. "Ranchers and farmers strive to provide the best care possible for their animals. Today, 97.4 percent of Americans eat meat. This symposium is an example of how the beef industry and its researchers continue to find new advances in animal well-being for the cattle they raise for beef."

"The beef industry has nothing to hide from the American public. Nobody cares more for the well-being of cattle than the 700,000 beef producers who spend their lives raising them," Thomson said. "This symposium will provide everyone who is involved in the beef cattle industry - from producer to veterinarian to feedyard manager and transport specialist to processor - the opportunity to have constructive discussion on well-being issues facing our industry. The speakers we have lined up for this are the leading experts in the field. Their depth, range and unique focus will provide all attendees with networking and problem solving opportunities."

Some of those speakers include Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University professor of animal science who has earned a reputation for not only designing livestock handling systems, but for her in-depth understanding of animal behavior. Joseph Stookey, an applied ethologist and sustainable beef systems research expert from the University of Saskatchewan; Mike Siemens, Leader - Animal Welfare and Husbandry for Cargill Animal Protein; Janice Swanson, director of animal welfare at Michigan State University; Glynn Tonsor, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Michigan State; Ron Gill, professor and extension livestock specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Tom Noffsinger a cattle handling expert and beef cattle veterinarian; and others will speak.

Conference presentations will include such topics as Answering public questions about beef production; How to set up and implement an auditing system in beef cattle operations; How can the beef industry better communicate to governmental entities; Teaching beef cattle welfare in the field; Analgesic pharmacology and management of pain associated with dehorning, castration and lameness; Management of culled dairy cows; Animal welfare at the beef packing level; How do we benchmark animal welfare progress in our industries; What are the economics associated with welfare; and more.

A similar symposium hosted by K-State in 2008 drew about 700 on-site and webcast participants from 31 states and 4 countries.

For those who are unable to attend in person, a live webcast option is available again this year.

The conference will be preceded by a half-day session on emergency preparedness for those involved in the beef industry. That session, which begins at 1 p.m., May 19 in Weber Arena, will cover such topics as handling loose cattle after an accident; moving downed animals, humane safety and handling fractious animals; humane euthanasia techniques and choices in the field and emergency response techniques for wounded cattle.

More information, including online registration, is available on the Web: http://www.isbcw.beefcattleinstitute.org/.

K-State´s Beef Cattle Institute already making its mark

Kansas State University´s Beef Cattle Institute was founded Aug. 1, 2007 with initial funding from K-State´s Targeted Excellence Initiative. The goal was to create a collaborative environment at K-State to tackle current and future issues facing the beef industry through education, research and outreach.

Since its inception, the BCI has hosted training sessions for beef industry professionals, produced multimedia training modules, publishes an electronic newsletter and built a Web presence: http://www.beefcattleinstitute.org.

At stake, said Dan Thomson, K-State associate professor and BCI director, is Kansas´ role in U.S. and global beef production. In 2008, cattle in Kansas produced $6.24 billion in receipts. For each $1 million expansion or decline that occurs in the cattle ranching and feeding sector, total economic activity in Kansas expands or contracts by $1.96 million.

As of Jan. 1, 2009, Kansas ranked third nationally in total cattle numbers and cattle on feed, with 6,300,000 total head of cattle (4,790,000 on feed). Sixteen of the 25 largest cattle feeders in the United States have facilities in Kansas. They represent a major market for Kansas feed grains. In 2008, Kansas ranked third in total red meat production. Beef represented 5.3 billion pounds of total red meat.