CLAYTON, N.M. – New Mexico cattle producers will have the chance to see how their cattle fit the current and future needs of the nation's changing beef industry at a Ranch-to-Rail field day at the Clayton Air Park on Feb. 19.

"Participants at this year's field day can learn more about feedyard operations, marketing out of the feedlot and carcass characteristics of the cattle that they put into the program," said Clay Mathis, coordinator of the New Mexico Ranch-to-Rail Program and a livestock specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

NMSU and Texas A&M University are co-sponsoring the workshop, which allows producers to track their cattle through the feedlot to the packing plant, he said. The free, daylong event is designed for producers who currently have cattle in the program and for ranchers who simply want to learn more about the program.

Richard McDonald, CEO of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, will present an animal identification policy update, as well as discussion of policy changes resulting from the recent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case in Washington state.

Ted McCollum, Extension beef specialist with Texas A&M University, will present an overview of the Ranch-to-Rail program and how it provides cattle producers with detailed information about their steers' performance.

Technical sessions will feature livestock authorities on cattle management and performance, and a demonstration using ultrasound to determine when cattle are ready for market. A visit to view Ranch-to-Rail cattle at Double A Feeders, a nearby commercial feedlot, will conclude the program.

"NMSU's Ranch-to-Rail program is an educational effort that provides producers the opportunity to learn how the beef industry operates beyond the ranch gate," said Ron Parker, head of NMSU's Extension Animal Resources Department in Las Cruces.

The field day begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Air Park, located at 1 Chestnut St. Please contact Mathis at (505) 646-8022 or cpmathis@nmsu.edu before the event for more information on obtaining a registration form or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com