F UNIVERSITY o
Celebrating the 57th Annual
Florida Beef Cattle Short Course at the
Hilton University of Florida Conference Center
April 30 May 2, 2008
South Central Small 3
Beef cattle producers continue to face
Pasture Management 3 challenges that affect the potential for
Seminaprofitability of their beef cattle enter-
SeekingSmall Farm 4 prise. Increasing production costs cou-
Dream pled with unfavorable weather patterns
Beef Management 5 continue to drive cattlemen to examine
Calendar their bottom line. To that end, today's
cattlemen continue to explore potential
CALENDAR marketing options, means to improve
Marchl3-23: Sarasota County the quality of the calves they market,
Fair and improved production practices as
March 15: Garden and Water well. The 57th Annual Florida Beef
College (Extension Office) Cattle Short Course continues the rich
March23: Easter Sunday tradition of quality programs from the
March 29: Small Farm Livestock UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sci-
Production Conference (Bartow) ences that address the issues facing the
March 29: South Central Small beef cattle industry. The 2008 Florida
Farms Conference (Extension Beef Cattle Short Course begins
Office) Wednesday afternoon with the annual
April 7: Small Farms Livestock market outlook. Looking at current
Production Conference (LaBelle) market trends is important as the beef
April 8: Manatee County Cattle- industry faces increasing production
women's Meeting (Christa's
Home) costs and expansion of the ethanol in-
24: Pasture Management dustry and the associated implications.
April 24: Pasture Management
Seminar (Extension Office) The afternoon program continues with
May 7-9: Beef Cattle Short a pair of current topics that outline the
Course (Gainesville) implementation of instrument grading
for beef carcasses followed by market-
ing and alternative production sys-
tems. The final installment of the
program that afternoon is an eco-
nomic comparison of alternative
production systems for beef cattle
producers. The afternoon program
concludes with an opportunity for
the participants to interact and ex-
change information during the eve-
ning reception and Allied Trade
Show. Thursday's program is en-
tirely dedicated to bulls. A wide
spectrum of important topics related
to bulls will be addressed through-
out the day. Thursday starts with a
discussion that addresses EPDs to
select and evaluate bulls. The theme
continues with a discussion of ge-
netic markers that should help clar-
ify fact from fiction in this emerging
genetic selection tool. The program
shifts from selection to production
as we look at how to adapt bulls to
the Gulf Coast region and bull man-
agement considerations for com-
mercial producers. Finally, because
buying a bull is a financial invest-
ment, it is ...continued page 2
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
57th Annual Beef Cat- 1
tie Short Course
Small Farms Livestock 2
Celebrating the 57th Annual
Florida Beef Cattle Short Course... continued
important to address how much a producer can pay for
a bull. The afternoon program continues to address the
bull component of the beef cattle enterprise through live
animal demonstrations. Three different assessment and
evaluation criteria will be applied to bull selection.
Demonstrations and discussion ofphenotypic live ani-
mal, ultrasound, and fertility and breeding potential
evaluations, along with matching bull selection to the
cow herd will give participants a comprehensive experi-
ence in bull selection and evaluation. The annual Cat-
tlemen's Steakout on Thursday evening provides an
event for all participants to enjoy a prime rib dinner and
time for conversation and relaxation. On Friday, the
program highlights the University of Florida's emphasis
on production practices. The program will present
some of the recent research and production methods
that UF researchers are exploring to improve beef pro-
duction in Florida. Topic areas will include back-
grounding calves with co-products, replacement heifer
management, factors affecting the value of calves from
Florida, application ofbiosolids as fertilizer sources,
and utilization oflimpograss for grazing. The 2008
Florida Beef Cattle Short Course promises to con-
tinue the tradition of being the best educational
event for beef cattle producers in the Southeast. The
spectrum of topics related to beef production, mar-
keting, and selection of bulls should provide some-
thing for every beef cattle producer regardless of
size. Make plans to attend the Short Course and
come away with new and innovative knowledge
about the beef cattle industry. Complete informa-
tion, schedules, and registration can be found
ml, or contact the University of Florida, Depart-
ment of Animal Sciences at (352) 392- 1916.
SOURCE: Dr. Matt Hersom
UF/IFAS, Department of Animal
Sciences; Gainesville, FL
Phone: (352) 392-2390
"So You Want to Be a Farmer"
Small Farms Livestock Production Conference
The Small Farms Livestock Production Conference was
designed for ranchette or small landowners who are
considering the raising, management and production of
livestock for pleasure or profit. This course, "So You
Want to be a Farmer", was designed more specifically
for new or agriculturally inexperienced landowners,
who are considering some field of livestock production
on their small or limited acreage. This will help guide
them and provide them information for making a more
informed decision about what type of livestock pro-
ducer they may want to be.
This course will provide basic information about all the
different animal species as possibilities for a small farm-
ing operation. We will explore some economic and
business basics of agricultural production; look at spe-
cialty production and markets as possibilities; give
some basics of animal health, buying healthy animals
and keeping them healthy; pasture and forage require-
ments before you ever get started, including under-
standing different forage species and their fertility and
maintenance requirements will be presented; and what
considerations you will need to make for fencing, hous-
ing, handling and holding equipment for all types of
This course will be offered on two dates, at two differ-
ent locations, beginning with the first offering on Satur-
day, March 29, 2008 at the Polk County Extension
Center in Bartow, FL. The second will be held on Sat-
urday, April 5, 2008 at the Dallas Townsend Ag Center
in LaBelle, FL.
The cost of the course is $20 prior to March 14th or $30
after March 14th or at the door. For more information
contact Christa at, 941-722-4524.
Volume 1, Issue 1
South Central Small Farms Conference
March 29th-Manatee County Extension Office
The South Central Florida Agricultural Extension
Agents are organizing a Small Farms Conference on
Saturday, March 29, 2008 from 9:00am until 3:30pm
for the Polk, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota
County area. The program was developed to assist
individuals who are interested in starting farms and
introduce them to areas that they may be interested in
pursuing. The focus this year will be on sources that
would assist the small farmer better manage their in-
vestments as well as predict profits or losses.
Throughout the day participants will hear speakers
who are currently practicing the principles they are
sharing with the participants. The morning session is
focused on ways to help the small farmer begin or
enhance their operation through financial planning,
tax exemption opportunities as well as cost sharing
programs. The afternoon has been reserved to allow
the participant time to learn about a variety of small
farm production practices from both extension agents
and producers. At the end of the day participants will
have the opportunity to tour Geraldson Farm in west-
ern Manatee County.
The registration cost of this program is $25 if post-
marked by March 14h and $35 if postmarked after
March 14h or at the door. The registration fee will
cover morning refreshments, lunch and written edu-
Anyone wishing to have more information may con-
tact, Christa L. Carlson-Kirby at the UF/UFAS
Manatee County Extension Office, 941-722-4524.
Basic Pasture Management Seminar
April 24th-Manatee County Extension Office
The winter weather is coming to an end. Soon spring
will be in the air. Many farmers and ranchers are
looking to improve or establish new pastures. Along
with the improving and establishing of pastures come
To answer many of these questions and even some
you may not know you have, Manatee County De-
partment of Natural Resources and UF/IFAS Exten-
sion Services' Livestock Extension Agent Christa L.
Kirby will be conducting a Basic Pasture Manage-
ment Seminar. The program will be held on Thurs-
day, April 24th at the Manatee County Department of
Agriculture and Natural Resources Kendrick Audito-
rium, located at the Manatee County Fairgrounds,
1303 17th St W, Palmetto. The program will begin at
During the course of the program we will discuss dif-
ferent varieties of grasses and other forage species.
We will also address what varieties are best for differ-
ent situations. While some grasses prefer wet soil
others prefer dryer soil. We will also explain how to
plant and prepare your pastures for planting by both
seed and vegetative material. After we have finished
discussing forage species we will talk about soil tests
and the importance of these tests to your forages. We
will discuss how to properly obtain soil samples and
options for testing. We will then move into a fertil-
izer discussion for your forages. The evening will
conclude with a discussion about animal stocking
rates and how it affects your pasture's production.
This course is available to you at no charge. We do
ask that anyone wishing to participate please register
so we can have adequate materials ready for every-
one. You can register by calling 941-722-4524 and
speaking with either Christa or Linda. If you have
any questions regarding this seminar please contact
us at the above number or by email at ccarl-
More Seek the Small-Farm Dream, but Need Help From Friends, Experts Say
It wasn't long after longtime commercial writer
Sandra "Sam" Williams and husband Jerry left their
fulltime desk jobs to start a 200-acre farm in Starke that
they realized they could use a little help.
"Sitting at a keyboard doesn't give you much
insight into how to harvest chickens or ward off white-
flies," she said. "And those are the easy problems.
These aren't the smoothest of times for anyone, let
alone small farmers."
Many are following their dream of starting their
own small farm in Florida, but the economic climate
makes maintaining those farms difficult. Unstable prop-
erty values, skyrocketing oil prices and a weak economy
have shaved away profits.
However, experts from the University of Flor-
ida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have
literally gone out of their way to uncover the best advice
for small farmers, and are beginning to spread the word.
Last May, IFAS personnel and other small farm
experts toured some of the most successful small-scale
agricultural businesses throughout South Carolina,
North Carolina and Georgia. They gleaned the most
profitable aspects from booming produce markets,
countless fields and greenhouses.
The most revealing truth was that successful
small farmers help one another out, said Danielle
Treadwell, an assistant professor in the UF Horticul-
tural Sciences Department. So the team's first step was
to organize local farmer meetings, such as one Williams
attended along with 30 other farmers in Baker County
Feb. 12. Several recent meetings in South Florida also
"I think there's a growing number of small farm-
ers in Florida that need this kind of knowledge to make
it work," Treadwell said. "It might be a retired couple
who came here to raise blueberries. Or it might be ideal-
istic young people who are just trying to scratch out
enough to make a lease payment on an acre of land."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a
farm as any place used to generate at least $1,000 worth
of agricultural products annually-whether or not those
products are actually sold at market. A "small farm" is
one that generates agricultural products worth less than
$250,000. In the 2002 Agricultural Census, 93 percent
of Florida's 44,000 farms were in this category.
The February 2009 release of the 2007 Agricul-
tural Census will be the definitive answer to whether
small farming is on the rise in Florida, but early num-
bers and anecdotal evidence suggest significant growth.
For example, data from the Columbia County
Appraiser's Office shows an increase in the number of
farms in that North Florida county from 688 in 2002 to
nearly 1,700 in 2007. Although, by the USDA's defini-
tion, these farms could be as little as two cows and a
horse or a half-acre of nursery plants.
IFAS-led meetings of these small farmers are
enabling them to begin to share resources, coordinate
farmers markets, and swap how-to information.
In addition to face-to-face meetings, today's
small farmers are Internet savvy, and have no trouble
developing their own Web sites or providing informa-
tion about their farming operation to consumers on
farming Web sites such as
"What may be even more important than their
ability to talk among themselves is how effective they
can suddenly become at talking to their community,"
said Robert Hochmuth, an IFAS extension agent based
in Live Oak.
Additionally, the May 2007 tour found that suc-
cessful small farms take advantage of the resources that
local and state agencies provide. Local extension agents
and nearby land grant universities can offer specialized
information and cutting-edge expertise on levels that
small farmers would otherwise be unable to afford.
"Large commercial farms can pay private specialists to
come out and do work for them, but many small farms
are operating on a shoestring-a frayed one at that,"
Williams said. "But small farms are able to get services
like affordable soil analysis. There's even a specialist
just for livestock."
Another rule of thumb is to develop a broad
knowledge base. For more information or to contact a
local extension agent, please visit
The IFAS site features information on farming
topics as well as small local conferences attended by
more than 1,700 people last year. The extension agents
behind the effort hope to use it to organize a statewide
conference in 2009.
SOURCE: Robert Hochmuth; Phone: (386) 362-1725
Volume 1, Issue 1
Beef Management Calendar
Plant warm season annual pastures.
Plant corn for silage.
Check and fill mineral feeder.
Check dust bags or apply treated ear tags.
Check for external parasites and treat if necessary.
Observe cows for repeat breeders.
Deworm cows as needed if not done in March.
SVaccinate against blackleg and brucellosis after 3 months of age and before 12 months of age.
Market cull cows and bulls.
Update market information and refine market strategy for calves.
Harvest hay from cool season crops.
Plant warm season perennial pastures.
Fertilize warm season pastures.
Check mineral feeder(s).
Check for spittlebugs and treat if necessary.
Apply spot-on agents for grub and louse control.
Check dust bags.
Vaccinate and implant with growth stimulant any later calves.
SReimplant calves with growth stimulant at 90-120 days, when you have herd penned.
Dispose of dead animals properly.
Update market information and refine marketing plans.
Remove bulls May 21 to end calving season March 1.
Last date for planting sorghum.
SCheck mineral feeder, use at least 8% phosphorus in mineral an not over 2 12 to 1 calcium to phosphorus
Check pastures and hay field for spittlebugs, mole crickets, and army worms.
Treat if necessary; best month for mole cricket control.
Check dust bags.
Watch for evidence of pinkeye and treat.
Utilize available veterinary services and diagnostic laboratories.
Get heifers vaccinated for brucellosis if not already done.
Pregnancy check cows.
Update market information and plans.
Make first cutting of hay.
Put bulls out June 1 for calves starting March 11.
Reimplant calves at 90 to 120 days with growth stimulant.
The South Florida Beef Forage Producer Survey
Many beef cattle producers will receive the South Florida Beef Forage Program Producer Survey. This survey
is used to advise and guide programs provided by the South Florida Beef Forage Program. I will also use this
survey to develop and guide the Manatee County Livestock Program. The survey will be sent to approxi-
mately 60 individuals in Manatee County. If you receive a survey please fill it out and return the completed
survey by using the self addressed stamped envelope provided. I would like to thank you advance for your
assistance with this survey. Results of the 2003 survey can be found online at http://sfbfp.ifas.ufl.edu.
Christa L. Carlson-Kirby
Extension Agent II, Livestock