March 14, 2001 | By: Aimee D. Heald

No, it's not a college for cows. Cow College is an intensive training program conducted by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service for beef cattle producers. These producers commit to five training sessions over nine days from July through November to gain in-depth knowledge of beef management procedures.

"The producers who attended the 2000 program represented approximately 2,600 commercial cows, 600 purebred cows and 1,200 feeder cattle," said Les Anderson, UK Beef specialist. "Herd numbers ranged from 10 head to about 300 head."

The five training sessions focused on nutrition, health, handling facilities, economics, genetics and reproduction, and the end beef product. Anderson said producers discussed cattle psychology and corral design and were trained on the proper techniques for cattle vaccination, implanting, dehorning and various castration methods.

Farm business management was a big concern and producers learned about analyzing financial statements and keeping farm records. They also learned a little about marketing systems and the futures market.

Training leaders used a computer-based game to help producers understand the demands and inputs necessary for buying and selling fed cattle.

"In the Packer-Feeder game, half the students control the feedlots and the other half control the packing plants," Anderson said. "Each group was trying to make as much money as possible. The dynamics of this side of the beef industry was certainly a worthwhile experience."

The goal of Cow College is to teach every aspect of the beef industry to participants and to provide producers useful information and tools to help them succeed in their cattle enterprise.

Anderson said that under the direction of Roy Burris, UK beef specialist, the UK Beef IRM has obtained funding for Cow College for the next three years, resulting in lower registration costs.

Cow College registration for 2001 is now open and it will close on June 1. The fee is $250 for all five sessions, or $100 per session. If you register for all five you don't have to take them in order.

"For example, if someone has time for sessions two through four this year, but not one and five, they can take one and five next year," Anderson said.

The fee includes all materials and meals, but does not include lodging. Anyone interested should send their name, address, phone number and a $100 deposit to Dr. Les Anderson, 811 W.P. Garrigus Building, Lexington, KY 40546-0215.

Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis and classes are limited to 30 participants per session. Individuals registering for all five sessions will have preference over those registering for individual sessions. Make checks payable to Cow College.


Jim Akers 859-257-2892