Helping cattle producers face a future full of change will be the focus of the 16th Annual Wheatland Stocker Conference this August.

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension conference will take place Aug. 14 at the High Plains Vo-Tech Center in Woodward and Aug. 15 at the Cherokee Strip Conference Center in Enid. Both meetings will take place 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sessions and speakers will be the same at each meeting.

"We split the conference into two meetings to cut down on driving time and make it easier to attend," said Greg Highfill, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area livestock specialist. "While there is no cost to attend the conference in either location, pre-registration is requested no later than Aug. 12 so that complimentary lunch arrangements can be made."

Producers can register at all OSU Cooperative Extension county offices, usually listed under "County Government" in local telephone directories, or by calling Highfill at 580-237-7677.

Tom L. Tippens, eMerge Interactive Inc., will be the keynote speaker for the events and open each day with a talk entitled "How New Technology Will Impact the Beef Industry."

"As technology advances, information can become more user-friendly for stocker producers," Highfill said. "More than in the past, great strides are being made in improving information systems, but there is still a need for greater individual animal performance data and methods for tracking, managing and sharing data."

Of particular interest will be a session focusing on the Cattle Market Outlook for 2003, an estimated projection of how and when cattle prices may change in the months to come.

"This segment is intended to get producers thinking about when to buy and to help them make hard decisions by informing them of plausible trends," Highfill said.

A Stocker Health Seminar led by Dr. Bob Smith, OSU veterinarian, and David Lalman, OSU Cooperative Extension beef specialist, will focus on the key quality control points that cattle producers should monitor and evaluate while straightening out a set of newly arrived stocker cattle.

Topics covered will include vaccine strategies, antibiotic use, nutritional requirements of stressed calves, updates on stocker cattle research and a review of the beef quality assurance audit.

" Producers Marlin Trissel of Woodward, John Bulling of Orlando and Don Hughes of Aline will review a stocker cattle operation and the methods and technology used," Highfill said. "The panel is an opportunity to hear from successful producers who have been in the same position as many conference participants."

After panel members have given their thoughts and suggestions, the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions.

"Oklahoma cattle producers have an abundance of knowledge and experience managing, buying, handling, evaluating, treating and marketing," Highfill said. "This meeting will be an opportunity for others to learn how technology is changing the way these tasks are performed."

Gerald Horn, OSU pasture scientist, and Mike Dicks, OSU agricultural economist, will provide an update on the university's wheat pasture research.

"Research comparing stocking rates with forage production and determining overall performance levels will be discussed as well as the mineral intake and needs of stocker cattle feeding on wheat pasture," Highfill said.

Highfill said the conference would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of area businesses.

Sponsors include the Northwest Cattlemen's Association, Woodward's Stock Exchange Bank and Farm Credit Services, and Enid's Gold Bank, Security National Bank, Northwest Vet Supply and the Central National Bank of Enid.

Producers seeking additional information about the Wheatland Stocker Conference should contact their local OSU Cooperative Extension county office, or call Highfill at 580-237-7677.

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