By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news
Manhattan, KS – Beef cattle is big business in Kansas.
The state holds the United States’ third largest number of cattle on ranches and feedyards – 6.5 million head, behind only Texas and Nebraska – and generates nearly $9 billion in cash receipts annually. In 2019, the Kansas Department of Agriculture noted that Kansas’ beef sector accounted for 55% of the state’s agricultural cash receipts that year.
But Logan Thompson – a sustainable grazing specialist in Kansas State University’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry – knows that the industry’s success also comes with a great responsibility.
“As an agricultural industry, we have a social license to operate within the realms of society at large,” he said. “So when our consumer base has issues – historically for the beef industry it’s been welfare, and now primarily climate issues – we have had to stand up and face those issues and make the changes required.”
Thompson is a featured speaker during the 110th annual K-State Cattlemen’s Day, set for March 3 in Manhattan. His talk, “Practical Solutions to Environmental Concerns,” highlights the afternoon portion of this year’s program.
Thompson’s talk will include findings on research on rotational versus continuous grazing that he’s been involved with for several years, first as a student in Alabama and continuing with upcoming trials in North Dakota and South Dakota.
“We’re looking at overall carbon and nitrogen flux, animal performance, enteric methane and trying to measure everything we can” to better understand the challenges of containing the release of methane into the atmosphere, he said.
“Ruminant animals (such as cows) do a really cool thing of converting complex carbohydrates (cellulose) to energy…and eventually into highly nutritious, high quality food for humans,” Thompson said.
“But in the process of that, they produce methane that is then respired out and is a known greenhouse gas that is pretty potent in the atmosphere compared to (carbon dioxide). So that’s the chief concern for us as researchers.”
In addition to grazing studies, Thompson’s work includes developing recommendations to aid cattle producer’s management decisions.
“We have a gradient of ecosystems in Kansas, so we’re trying to figure out what management style works best in these different environments,” he said. “And we’re working on some other projects looking at precision feeding to help keep small producers economically relevant and potentially receive carbon credits if they implement a different feeding strategy.”
The cost to attend Cattlemen’s Day 2023 is $25 if paid by Feb. 24, or $35 at the door. There is no charge for students who pre-register. For more information and online registration, visit KSUBeef.org
Also on Mar. 3, the 46th Annual Legacy Bull and Female Sale will begin at 4 p.m. at the Stanley Stout Center (2200 Denison Avenue in Manhattan). Visit asi.ksu.edu/legacysale to learn more about this year’s offering and to request a sale catalog.
On Mar. 2, the Tom Perrier Family will be honored as the Stockman of the Year at the Annual Stockmen’s Dinner, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Stanley Stout Center. A separate registration is required for the dinner. Information can be found online at asi.ksu.edu/stockmensdinner.