Cattle producers can learn how their cattle fit the current and future needs of the beef industry at a Ranch-to-Rail field day Feb. 19 at the Clayton (N.M.) Air Park.

The New Mexico State University Ranch-to-Rail program is designed to provide feedback to the state's ranchers on how their cattle perform in the feedyard and the type of carcasses they produce, said Ron Parker, head of NMSU's Extension animal resources department in Las Cruces.

The information allows producers to determine whether they're on target or if they need to change the genetics of their herd or modify their management system, he said.

NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and Texas A&M University's Extension Service are co-sponsoring the workshop, which allows producers to track their cattle through the feedlot to the packing plant. The full-day event is designed for producers who currently have cattle in the program and for ranchers who simply want to learn more about the program.

The Ranch-to-Rail effort is first of all an educational program, said Clay Mathis, a livestock specialist with NMSU's Extension service. “Producers at this year's field day can learn more about feedyard operations, marketings out of the feedlot and the carcass characteristics of the cattle that they put into the program,” he said.

To help explain Ranch-to-Rail benefits, Ted McCollum, a beef specialist with Texas A&M University's Extension service, will present an overview of the program and how it provides cattle producers with detailed information about the quality of the steers they put in the program. Participants also will take part in technical sessions by NMSU livestock authorities on cattle performance and marketing, and using ultrasound to determine when cattle are ready for market.

A tour of NMSU's Clayton Livestock Research Center, six miles east of Clayton on Highway 56, and a visit to view Ranch-to-Rail cattle at Double A Feeders, a nearby commercial feedlot, will conclude the program. The field day begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Clayton Air Park, located at 1 Chestnut Street. Registration deadline for the free event is Feb. 9.

For more information or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting, please contact Mathis at 505-646-8022 or cpmathis@nmsu.edu before the event.