Kansas State University’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry has started a course that it hopes will train students to meet a critical need for the state’s bustling feedlot industry.

The course was first offered in early January at feedlots in and around Garden City. Twenty students returned early from winter break to attend the class, known as the Kansas State University Undergraduate Feedlot Boot Camp and Teaching Program.

K-State junior Shane Newton called the course “a once in a lifetime opportunity that I believe I will continue to benefit from.”

Kansas ranks third in the nation for cattle on feed with 2.33 million head. The Kansas cattle feeding industry is a growing and expanding sector that is hungry for trained professionals.

During the course, students were trained in best practices for receiving and processing cattle, finding and treating sick cattle, cattle handling and comfort, facility design and evaluation, feed mill operations and software, commodity storage and handling, bunk reading, feed calling, and maintenance, as well as other factors contributing to the success of a cattle feeding operation.

Sessions were held at Reeve Cattle Company, Inc. and Finney County Feedyard in Garden City; and Poky Feeders in Scott City.

“I learned how truly innovative and forward thinking all these operations were and how important that is to the cattle industry,” said K-State junior Kyndall Norris, who added that she enjoyed seeing the different practices and set-ups of the operations.

Veterinarian Pete Anderson helped to design the class, along with K-State faculty members Karol Fike and Larry Corah.

““I work all day, every day, in feedlots all over the country, and especially in Kansas,” Anderson said, adding that he is very excited about the future of the course, as well as the future of the cattle feeding industry. “[Students] got up early, worked all day, stayed engaged and were so enthused. At the end, all they wanted was more.”

Anderson said the course filled a need for students to be exposed to career and business opportunities in the feedlot industry. He said he hears repeatedly of companies needing help finding more employees, both hourly and for management positions.

In addition to work in the feedyards, students participated in classroom-type learning each day. Topics included an industry overview, learning how a feedlot operates, cattle health challenges and programs, feeding and nutrition, feedlot maintenance and the business of cattle feeding.

“The trip was one of the best learning experiences that I have had at K-State.” said K-state junior Madeline Neufeld, noting that the course helped her apply what she had learned in other courses to real-world situations.

Organizers said the course is made possible through sponsorships by Midwest PMS, Zoetis, Rabo AgriFinance, Phibro Animal Health, several Kansas feedlot operations, and K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry.

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