SYLVESTER — University of Georgia Extension agent Larry Varnadoe has been educating livestock producers in Worth County since 2012.
By surveying livestock producers, Varnadoe found a need for livestock educational meetings and also an interest in reviving the Worth County Livestock Association. Varnadoe has been successful in fulfilling both requests for Worth County, home to more than 14,000 brood cows.
“With the price of cattle today, anything that producers can do to improve their herds and increase their weaning weights is a plus, and we have offered them educational information that hopefully they can take back and put into practice in their herd,” Varnadoe said.
Before starting the classes, Varnadoe learned producers were mainly interested in: 1) producing high-quality forage; 2) an effective but less expensive way to winter brood cows; 3) a way to market calves to get the most for their investment; and 4) controlling parasites and diseases in beef herds.
Classes, which are held at the Worth County Livestock Pavilion, have educated cattlemen on topics like winter grazing; insect management in summer pastures and hayfields; pasture fertilization and weed control; and options for winter-feeding beef brood cows.
Topics covered are timely and provide the latest information from the university. For example, due to the excessive amount of rainfall last year, hay quality was damaged throughout Georgia. Jacob Segers, the new UGA Extension beef cattle specialist, spoke during one class about alternative feeding methods such as whole cotton seed and brewers grain.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as too much information,” Segers said. “The trends and technologies associated with livestock production change weekly, and it never hurts to be on top of those things. It may be something you can’t utilize in your operation, but it’s nice to be aware of it so that when you’re asked about it, you understand enough about it to answer their questions.”
After finding an interest to revive the Worth County Livestock Association, Varnadoe has dedicated his efforts to revamping the organization with the assistance of several former members and volunteers. It currently has more than 30 paid members.
“Thirty paid members, that’s going to be the high end of average for equivalent programs in other counties around the state,” Segers said.
A variety of cattle producers are welcome to attend classes. Aside from members of the Worth County Livestock Association, members of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association and other producers in the area attend classes.
“All of the responses about the classes have been positive, and they are asking for more information, so we will probably plan to offer more classes,” Varnadoe said.
Varnadoe expects to offer educational opportunities again during the late summer and in November of this year.
For more information or to contact Varnadoe, see http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/worth/contact.html.