Stocker cattle operators are facing a unique year, but help is available in determining answers to the coming non-traditional management scenarios by attending the 6th annual Southwest Stocker Cattle Conference on Sept. 30.

The conference will take place at the Great Plains Technology Center, located at 4500 SW Lee Blvd. in Lawton. Conference sign-in will begin at 8:45 a.m. with sessions starting at 9:15 a.m. and finishing at approximately 2 p.m.

“Participants will pick up the latest science-based information and practical tips vital to making sound management decisions, always important given the tight profit margins under which most producers operate, and perhaps more important than ever this year,” said Bob LeValley, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service area livestock specialist.

There is no cost to attend. However, participants are asked to pre-register by contacting their local Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension county office, the Southwest Area OSU Cooperative Extension Office in Duncan at 580-255-0546 or by e-mailing LeValley at bob.levalley@okstate.edu.

“Pre-registration is easy to do and helps ensure sufficient numbers of conference materials, complimentary lunches and refreshments are provided,” LeValley said.

Derrell Peel, OSU Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist, will lead the opening session. Peel will discuss the current market situation and outlook, focusing on wheat pasture cattle and detailing how supply, demand, export markets and weather are affecting the potential profitability of wheat-stocker operations.

Dave Lalman, OSU Cooperative Extension beef cattle specialist, will then help participants examine how they might best manage stocker enterprises on wheat given high wheat prices, high fertilizer inputs and high value of gain for cattle.

A special focus of this year’s conference will be the Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance Program, after which producers will have an opportunity to become BQA certified.

“The producer, packer and consumer all benefit when better quality cattle leave the farm and reach the marketplace,” LeValley said. “Over time, implementation of a BQA program is expected to improve producer profits by emphasizing good recordkeeping practices and protecting herd health through the prevention, containment and control of disease.”

LeValley added that the BQA program’s emphasis on safety and wholesomeness also enhances public perception of beef and cattle producers, important because the beef industry is constantly under scrutiny from consumers and special interest groups.

BQA topics will be led by LeValley; Heather Buckmaster, executive director, Oklahoma Beef Council; Glenn Selk, OSU Cooperative Extension animal reproduction specialist; Dr. Gene Parker, OSU Cooperative Extension veterinarian and food animal quality and health specialist; and OSU Cooperative Extension agricultural educators Max Gallaway of Stephens County, Aaron Henson of Tillman County and Marty New of Comanche County.

A trade show will take place in conjunction with the conference.

Anyone seeking additional information about the Sept. 30 conference should contact LeValley by e-mail at bob.levalley@okstate.edu or by telephone at 580-255-0546.