Women in Agriculture conference draws sizable crowd for 27th annual event
March 5, 2012
Women attending the 27th Annual Nebraska Women In Agriculture conference in Kearney last week returned home with knowledge about everything from transitioning the farm and ranch to the next generation, changes coming in farm policy and the farm bill, to downloading applications on a smart phone, computerizing farm records, and living with diabetes. More than 500 women from all over the state attended the two-day conference at the Holiday Inn.
Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska Vice President kicked off the event discussing the new and exciting things taking place at the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He also introduced Tom Field, who is the new director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
During the morning session, Dave Specht, a family business management consultant, talked about the important role women play in transitioning the farm or ranch to future generations. “A women’s influence is the key to generational transitional farms,” Specht said. “Sometimes, women are in a position to force some of the communication that needs to happen. Every family has its challenges when planning for the future, and it’s not easy,” he said.
Specht said the most important part of planning generational business transitions is communication. His goal is to help families perpetuate relationships to keep the business going for future generations.
During a separate morning presentation, Rick Rasby, extension beef specialist with the University of Nebraska, explained the importance of testing forage when planning a ration for farm animals. During his presentation, Rasby explained that with corn prices on the increase, it is important for ranchers to test their forage so they know what they need to formulate a balanced ration. Rasby showed the group how to analyze forages for nutrient content and how to sample forages using a hay probe.
Forage analysis in a lab can be determined by either Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) or wet chemistry. Rasby said NIR is accurate and quick, and producers will usually receive an analysis within a couple days. For producers more concerned if a feed meets their mineral requirements, a chemical analysis may be more suitable.
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Rasby demonstrated how to use a hay probe, and encouraged producers to sample at least 1/3 of the bales from each cutting to obtain a representative sample. If round bales are being sampled, the probe needs to be stuck in from the side. If square bales are sampled, the probe needs to be stuck in the end of the bale.
“Three things that impact forage quality is maturity at harvest, maturity at harvest, and maturity at harvest,” Rasby stated. “As maturity at harvest increases, quality will decrease. As the plant matures, it loses leaves and gets stemmy,” he explained. “The nutrient value is in the leaves.”
Sandhills Producer Rosemary Anderson shared her experiences with diversifying the family ranch to make it more profitable. Rosemary discussed how she and her husband worked together to utilize center pivots to make more grazing for their cattle, and how she has become involved in custom AI work, which she enjoys immensely.
Afterward, Rick Funston, extension livestock specialist with the University of Nebraska, discussed his work with the replacement heifer development program both in the United States and in other countries. Funston said creating a replacement heifer development enterprise can be a successful and profitable venture if producers find ways to grow the heifer to an ideal weight at a low cost. He also encouraged producers to breed the heifers early and for a short period of time to capitalize on research that has shown heifers that breed up early tend to breed back better year after year and will have more calves in their lifetime than their later-calving counterparts.
During the conference, women had the opportunity to network with other women producers around the state sharing ideas and concerns about farm and ranch life. They were also treated to keynote speakers, Tina Henderson who spoke about Standing up for farmers and ranchers: The food celebrities of 2012; and Juli Burney, who is a multiple award winning teacher, humorist and author, who can entertain a crowd as a comedian while motivating them to improve their lives through humor and effective use of communication.