COLLEGE STATION – Texas beef producers attending the 58th Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station looked intently at several maps depicting future weather patterns across the Lone Star State.
Brian Bledsoe, weatherman for the Southern Livestock Standard, was one of several featured speakers Monday during the general session at Rudder Auditorium on the Texas A&M University campus. Bledsoe said the current weather patterns are reminiscent of the 1950s, but predicted West Texas and states such as Colorado, Oklahoma will leave hot temperatures and drought behind sometime this winter.
“When it breaks, it’s going to break big-time,” Bledsoe said.
This year’s short course, which has attracted more than 1,400 beef producers from across Texas, the U.S. and abroad, has beef producers wanting more information about climate outlook and how to build back herds, said Dr. Jason Cleere, conference coordinator and Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist, College Station.
“Judging by topic selection, forage and drought recovery sessions were highly attended, which indicates there’s big interest in herd rebuilding in Texas,” Cleere said.
The driver for future weather change in Texas will be weather-maker storms on the West Coast this winter, which models indicate to be wetter than normal, Bledsoe told the group.
“That’s where our weather is going to come from,” he told attendees, pointing to California and upper coastline states, where shades of blue on the map indicated moisture.
Meanwhile, this winter, cold weather is predicted for November-January from the tip of Dallas up through the Midwest.
Bledsoe said at least through the first couple of months the 2013 El Nino “will play some role in at least temperature,” especially during the months of February, March and April.
“It stands to reason Texas and the Gulf Coast will be colder than normal for winter,” he said. “Moisture will come and East Texas is predicted to be wetter than normal.”
Dr. Ted McCollum, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Amarillo, gave a comprehensive virtual video tour of a feedlot operation. He walked beef producers through the process, beginning with a truckload of cattle backing up to a loading chute and then going through a health program.
Feeder cattle were fed a ration of 25 pounds a day and the detailed video showed a series of computerized gauges monitoring various commodities and feed bins. McCollum was followed by a virtual tour of a packing operation led by Drs. Dan Hale and Davey Griffin, AgriLIfe Extension meat specialists, College Station.
Dr. Lowell Catlett, a Regents professor, dean and chief administrative officer at New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, provided insights and an outlook on the agriculture industry, specifically beef-cattle production, plus the overall current state of the economy.
“This is truly the golden age of agriculture,” Catlett said, providing a blend of humor and futuristic outlook to his keynote.
He touted the agriculture industry and rising agriculture real estate values.
“They’ve gone up threefold over the last 10 years,” he said. “Agriculture has some of the strongest financial statements of any in the industry. What do you think the outlook for beef is?”
Catlett said there’s a lot ahead for beef producers in the future, especially with regard to consumers who are of the millennial age. Many carry smartphones and don’t know how to cook, he said. Holding a smartphone, he referenced the late Steve Jobs and Apple Inc.’s iPhone with apps. He said consumers like himself may walk up to a meat case, point the phone and take a picture of a retail cut of meat. An app would then respond with a celebrity chef offering cooking advice.
“Go write some apps,” he said. “This (smartphone) is the most phenomenally integrated system on the planet.”
This year’s beef cattle short course was dedicated to Dr. L. R. Sprott, professor and AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist emeritus. Sprott served as Upper Gulf Coast beef cattle specialist from 1981 until his retirement in August 2003. His interest specialized in commercial cow-calf production and his research publications focused on specific reproduction improvement methods.
The beef short course event showcases the latest research and educational programs offered by AgriLife Extension, Texas AgriLife Research and the department of animal science at Texas A&M. The annual event is one of the largest beef-education workshops in the country. The short course continues through Wednesday.
For more information about the short course, visit the event blog at http://agrilife.org/beefshortcourse/ and Twitter posts at #beefCSC12.