Ruminating on Small Ruminants at the Missouri Livestock Symposium

Ruminating on Small Ruminants at the Missouri Livestock Symposium

NCAT Southeast Livestock Specialist Linda Coffey traveled to Kirksville, Missouri, last week for the very popular Missouri Livestock Symposium, which draws thousands of attendees from across the U.S. Linda shares her reflections on the trip below.

Friday Evening Activities and Keynote

I enjoyed representing NCAT at the Missouri Livestock Symposium. As usual, a great crowd showed up to this busy and well-run conference. On Friday, November 30, we opened at 4:00 p.m. with a crowded trade show, a free beef supper, and a two-hour evening program. Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, gave the Friday evening keynote address. His topic was “Agriculture today: It is what it is…What should we do about it?” He owns Homestead Creamery in addition to being a business coach and president of AgriVisions, LLC. His message for livestock producers: be an entrepreneur. Customers want an experience and a connection. We must be innovators.

Saturday: A Packed House

On Saturday, the trade show opened at 8:00 a.m., with educational sessions in concurrent tracks all morning. After lunch, programming continued from 2:00-5:00 p.m. I met farmers, distributed many livestock publications, and talked with my neighbors at the trade show. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to presentations by Dr. Frank Pinkerton, a highly respected researcher and educator also known as “The Goat Man.” I have read and shared his work for many years, but never met him until this event. He stayed at the front of the room after his talks and participated in my presentations. Gordon Shelangoski from Premier 1, a livestock equipment supply company, spoke for two hours on “Low Input Sheep Production.” The classroom was filled to twice its capacity the whole time.

My first talk was a Q and A called “Got Milk? About Dairy Goats,” and I enjoyed the interesting discussion. I gave my other talk, “Grazing to Avoid Trouble,” in both the sheep and goat tracks. I was pleased with the attendance in both sessions; there were at least 50 in the 11:00 a.m. sheep session and 25-30 at the 4:00 p.m. goat session.

Connecting and Reflecting

I made some great connections at the trade show with fellow exhibitors, including Mast Meats, LLC; NEMO Feeds (which gathered traffic by hosting a bean bag toss game: if you won, you could pick up a feed sack calendar and a feed scoop!), and Premier 1.

I was very happy to present at this conference and share information about NCAT and the ATTRA program. This event always draws great crowds; Gary Mathes, chairman of the Missouri Livestock Symposium, estimates that 2,000 attended this year. I asked a woman at the end of the day, “Did you get what you needed from the conference today?” She confidently replied, “Oh, yes, we always do at this conference.” Another person commented to me that our ATTRA booth “is the most informative booth in the trade show. Thanks for all the great information!” One of the refreshing things about this year was that I noticed many young farmers. It’s great to see the young farmers and their children come out on a Saturday. I’m looking forward to going back next year!

Additional Resources

Couldn’t make it to the Symposium? You can still access the great livestock publications Linda shared at the NCAT/ATTRA booth!

Managing Internal Parasites and Sheep and Goats: Frequently Asked Questions are available to download FREE on the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture website, along with many other livestock publications, videos, podcasts, and tutorials.

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture has a podcast! Take a listen to Linda’s conversations with dairy goat producers Veronica Baetje of Baetje Farms and Tessa McCormick of White River Creamery.

You can take a quick tour of Linda’s farm and hear about her grazing management with this short video posted on our NCAT Southeast Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NCATSoutheast/videos/198117967781071/.

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